The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill aimed at bringing whole and reduced-fat milk back to school cafeterias, potentially reversing a decade-old restriction. The Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act, H.R. 1147, sponsored by Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson, was passed on December 13 with significant support. This move challenges the 2010 Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, which eliminated whole and two percent milk from schools participating in the National School Lunch Program.
Proponents of the bill, like Bailey Fisher from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, argue that this change would benefit both dairy farmers and students. Fisher highlighted the nutritional benefits of whole and reduced-fat milk, including improved bone density and reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. The bill, if passed in the Senate, would allow schools to offer whole and reduced-fat milk options alongside low-fat and fat-free varieties.
Critics, however, have raised concerns about the bill’s exclusion of plant-based milk options, pointing to the needs of lactose intolerant students and environmental considerations. Animal Wellness Action criticized the House for rejecting an amendment to the bill that would have allowed a plant-based milk option upon request.
President of Animal Wellness Action, Wayne Pacelle, expressed disappointment in the bill’s narrow focus, emphasizing the health issues and waste associated with cow’s milk consumption among lactose intolerant students. The bill’s passage in the House represents a significant step for advocates like Fisher and the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, who have pursued this legislative change for over a decade. The bill now proceeds to the Senate for further deliberation, where its fate and potential impact on school nutrition programs will be determined.
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