The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) released a joint statement today on the House Education and Labor Committee’s passage of the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act, a bill that reauthorizes federal child nutrition programs. It is presented in entirety below:

“Dairy farmers and processors across the nation pride themselves on providing nutritious, healthful foods. Milk provides 13 essential vitamins and nutrients, including three of the four deemed to be of public health concern. Milk also is the top source of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin D in kids ages 2 to 18. The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans highlight the robust nutrient package milk provides and notes that school-aged children do not consume recommended amounts of dairy foods. Ensuring children and adolescents have access to nutrient-dense milk and healthful dairy foods is a top priority for NMPF, IDFA, and our members.

“Child nutrition programs are critical to ensuring kids have access to nutritious food. We thank those across our nation who work hard every day to administer these vital programs. The Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act approved today by the House Education and Labor Committee includes provisions to provide increased access and maintain existing access to healthful dairy foods. 

 “In addition to expanding eligibility and increasing support to schools, the bill takes an important step in increasing students’ access to nutritious food by securing more permanently the ability for schools to serve all milk options consistent with the Dietary Guidelines. We thank Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), who has championed the issue for years with his School Milk Nutrition Act, for his leadership in securing these healthy milk options for schools. Milk consumption increases when more varieties are available; protecting the ability for schools to choose the milk options that best serve their students is crucial. Increased milk consumption means more intake of milk’s essential nutrients. And schools that have seen a rise in milk consumption have, in many cases, seen overall school-meals participation rise as well.

 “The legislation also points to the importance of the nutrients milk provides for students. The Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act maintains the requirement that milk substitutes be nutritionally equivalent to real milk, unless the student is being offered a substitute for medical or other diet-related needs. We will continue our efforts to further strengthen nutritional equivalency requirements to protect access to milk’s essential nutrients in child nutrition programs.”