Reps. Thompson, Courtney introduce school milk act

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Howard, and Joe Courtney, D-Vernon, Conn., today introduced the School Milk Nutrition Act of 2017.

According to the congressmen, the bill will ease unnecessary regulations preventing milk consumption in school lunch programs.

The bipartisan bill recognizes the importance of milk to the health and well-being of school children. It is also designed to improve the variety and availability of milk offered in schools, which was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue earlier this year.

In May, Secretary Sonny Purdue directed the USDA to begin the process of allowing schools to serve 1 percent flavored milk through the school meals program.

“Milk is the No. 1 source of nine essential nutrients in many young Americans’ diets and provides many significant health benefits,” Thompson said. “The School Milk Nutrition Act of 2017 seeks to reverse the decline of milk consumption in schools throughout Pennsylvania and across the country. By allowing children more milk options — including flavored milk — it is my hope that we will witness consumption return to their historic levels and kids will again be able to enjoy milk. I am certainly encouraged by the Agriculture Secretary Perdue’s support, and I look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Courtney to pass this important piece of legislation.”

“Milk is a cornerstone of a healthy meal for our nation’s children,” Courtney said.

The School Milk Nutrition Act is supported by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF).

Key provisions of the School Milk Nutrition Act of 2017 are:

r Preserve milk’s integral role in school meals.

r Provide schools the option of offering low-fat (1 percent) flavored milk, rather than only fat- free – but only if the milk contains no more than 150 calories per 8-ounce serving.

r Eliminate unnecessary and cumbersome paperwork for schools who wish to offer students more variety.

r Allow milk to be sold in the same age-appropriate container sizes as competing beverages.

r Establish a pilot program designed to increase milk consumption through expanded breakfast programs, a la carte sales, new outlets, etc., with a focus on improvements to packaging, refrigeration, flavors and merchandising.

r Allow mothers in the WIC program to select reduced-fat milk (2 percent) for themselves or their children with a written request.