Chocolate Milk Back at School
The National Milk Producers Federation is happy with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s steps for returning low-fat (1%) flavored milk as part of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. The USDA announced the final rule implementing regulatory changes needed to add low-fat flavored milk to more school menus and other nutrition programs serving children in December.
“USDA’s own studies have shown that students drank less milk after low-fat chocolate milk was removed from schools,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the NMPF. “Milk has been an integral part of school meals since their beginning ... The new rule is good news for schools, students and American dairy farmers.”
The final rule makes permanent the changes Secretary Perdue implemented last year to streamline the process by which schools can serve low-fat flavored milk. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture eliminated low-fat flavored milk as an option in school meal and a la carte programs, after which milk consumption in schools dropped. Students consumed 288 million fewer half-pints of milk from 2012-2015, even as public-school enrollments grew.
The USDA action will allow schools to offer low-fat flavored milk without requiring them to demonstrate either a reduction in student milk consumption or an increase in school milk waste, bureaucratic hoops that had limited their ability to offer low-fat flavored milk in the 2017/18 school year.