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Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, the third largest dairy cooperative in the country based on milk volume, applauded the passage of the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act (H.R. 1147) through the House, with strong bipartisan support in a 330-99 vote.
The bill will enhance school meal nutrition by providing children with a wider variety of milk options, including whole and 2% milk, favorites among children at home.
“Milk is an essential part of a balanced diet, especially for our growing children,” Edge President Brody Stapel said. “Milk’s nutritional benefits for school-age children have been proven time and again, and offering expanded options encourages consumption of nutrient-dense milk.
“Thank you to Reps. GT Thompson and Kim Schrier for their unwavering support and leadership to ensure that fuller-fat dairy products are recognized as healthy options, especially for school nutrition programs. We urge the Senate to take up their companion bill ASAP.”
In 2012, USDA updated school meal requirements to reflect the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans at that time. The update included restricting school milk choices to unflavored low-fat, flavored fat-free and unflavored fat-free. Milk consumption in schools dropped significantly.
In 2017, USDA allowed hardship-based exemptions to school nutrition standards so they could serve flavored low-fat (1%) milk. USDA implemented those standards, which were in place when the pandemic hit and continued allowing flexibility in the program to ensure schools could offer nutritious meals amid pandemic-related supply chain issues. However, the ability to serve low-fat, flavored milk in future school years remains uncertain. Schools and U.S. dairy need certainty about the rules moving forward to encourage children to drink more nutrient-dense milk.