Statement From Dave Smith, Executive Director, PA Dairymen’s Association

In response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent efforts to potentially ban flavored milk options in school cafeterias by making changes to School Nutrition Standards: 

Ludicrous?  Yes, our nation’s bureaucrats, under the premise that a small daily serving of milk served in schools is creating childhood obesity, are teeing up to remove flavored milk as an option in school cafeterias. All milk, flavored or not, is a proven powerhouse for our children’s minds, bodies and growth, especially for healthy development. In fact, milk and chocolate milk contain 13 essential and robust nutrients and vitamins making it an excellent beverage choice. Plus, chocolate milk is popular among athletes of all ages as the top refuel beverage after exercising. Study after study has shown that chocolate milk is the winner and BEST drink that’s chock full of nutrition and hydration benefits.

So many children only like flavored milks to stay hydrated. So, why should we or government tell them they can’t drink nutrient-enriched chocolate or strawberry milk anymore, especially at school?  This and we will push them toward more sugary drinks like soda and empty calories outside of school.

Over the past decade our hard-working dairy farmers have fought to bring back whole fat milk choices to schools without success. This latest push to further limit milk options for students will further diminish the supply of natural, delicious nutrients in our schools and for our children’s health. It’s been shown that there is a public health concern for under consumption of calcium, potassium and vitamin D in American diets, all which milk supplies. Do we want children to stop drinking delicious, great tasting milk which offers these and other nutrients? Adding flavors to milk actually promotes consumption and appeals to even the pickiest of eaters, allowing them the advantage of a hardy array of nutrition delivered.

School is the major supplier of meals for children facing food insecurity. Many of these children choose to drink flavored milks that are packed with protein and other critical health benefits to carry them through their day and nights at home where milk may not be available.  Yet, our government and this Administration is attempting to steal this healthy beverage from our youth during the school day that fills the nutrition and hunger gap.

Currently, we are only allowed to offer students fat-free or 1% low-fat flavored milk as an option. Now, our government leaders are attempting to rob nutritious milk from the mouths of babes.  When will we allow families and our children to make these individual health choices? Surely, the federal government and the USDA can find more important and meaningful issues to focus on than taking away an 8 oz. per day serving of flavored milk from our children.  I feel strongly that we should allow students to continue having the smart option to drink flavored milks and it’s about time we allow whole milk back into our schools!