Senate Agriculture Committee votes in favor of bolstering
school milk choices.
In a move strongly
supported by the nation’s dairy producers and processors, the Senate
Agriculture Committee last month approved the Child Nutrition and WIC
Reauthorization Act of 2004, a bill that contains two major provisions to
increase milk’s availability to American schoolchildren.
The Senate bill’s school milk provisions are identical to the
language found in the House of Representatives’ Child Nutrition Improvement
and Integrity Act, backed by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA)
and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). The Senate Agriculture Committee
adopted the House bill’s language after receiving a May 13 letter from a bipartisan
group of senators, led by committee members Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Patrick
“We applaud the leadership of Senators Crapo and
Leahy in enhancing the role of milk in the school lunch program,”
says Connie Tipton, IDFA president and chief executive officer.
Jerry Kozak president and chief executive officer of NMPF, also
praised panel chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and the entire Senate Agriculture
Committee for “clearly recognizing the importance of milk in the health of our
Specifically, the first provision would allow schools
to have more flexibility on what to serve on the school lunch line. While
the school lunch program currently restricts schools to offering only milk
varieties that most students chose in the previous school year, this
legislation would allow schools to expand choices based on what they
believe are the best offerings for the student body, including flavored
milk, lactose-free milk and milk of varying fat levels. In fact, the bill
would require at least two different milk options to be offered. In
particular, IDFA and NMPF welcome the addition of lactose-free milk to the
school lunch line, believing it will expand milk’s appeal to those
with special dietary needs.
The second provision would give schools the authority to offer
milk anytime and anywhere on school premises or at school events. This would
prevent restrictions on milk sales that are sometimes inserted in vending contracts
that soft-drink companies have with schools. NMPF and IDFA are calling for a
full Senate vote as soon as possible, since authorization for the current child
nutrition programs expires June 30.