At the beginning of the month, USDA officially said welcome back to chocolate milk in school lunch programs. Technically, it didn’t leave in most areas, but under the Obama administration, flavored milk was curtailed to a skim-only option.
Under the new announcement from USDA, 99,000 schools and institutions that feed 30 million children annually through USDA’s school meal programs can now offer flavored milks in a 1 percent fat option.
This has been on the docket since Sonny Perdue became Secretary of Agriculture last year. “USDA is committed to serving meals to kids that are both nutritious and satisfying,” said Perdue of the broadened USDA recommendations. “These commonsense flexibilities provide excellent customer service to our local school nutrition professionals, while giving children the world-class food service they deserve.”
In addition to bringing low-fat flavored options back to the dairy cases in cafeterias, USDA officials eased restrictions on grains and sodium levels. Schools now only have to meet a requirement of half of the weekly grains in school lunches as whole grains, and the time line for reducing sodium levels was extended.
Research by the National Milk Producers Federation, as well as in the Los Angeles Unified School District by the Dairy Council of California, showed that the removal of flavored milks from cafeteria milk cases resulted in consumption losses and waste.