8News: New bill could put whole milk back in school cafeterias

8NEWS, HANNAH BRANDT

A new political push could bring whole milk back to school lunches. Lawmakers are debating a bill that would change the current school nutrition rules.

Right now, schools can only serve low fat or fat free milk. A bill sponsored by Republican Congressman Glenn Thompson would allow them to serve whole milk again.

“We’ve really ruined an entire generation of milk drinkers and we have, we really cheated them out of access to the most nutritional beverage,” Thompson said.

The effort is bipartisan, with some Democrats joining in on the legislation. Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger is one of the Democrats supporting it.

“It’s a really straight forward way to ensure that kids are getting access to nutritious, healthy, and delicious milk in schools,” Spanberger said.

She says it’s about expanding options.

“We’re not mandating that all kids have to drink whole milk, we’re simply removing the prohibition,” Spanberger said.

Whole milk was originally taken out of schools because of concerns about its higher fat content. Congressman Bobby Scott points to studies that show whole milk isn’t the healthiest option.

“For a lot of children this is the most nutritious meal that they have during the day. And if they are allowed to have non-nutritious meals, it can have long term health effects,” Scott said.

He argues this issue should be up to nutritional experts like those at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We should not be making this decision in the political branch where we have compromises and political pressures, rather than science ruling the day,” Scott said.

Right now, the USDA is also considering taking flavored milk out of elementary and middle schools.

Congresswoman Spanberger insists taking away choices means some kids will skip milk, and its nutritional benefits, altogether.

“Trays full of skim milk going straight into the trash can,” Spanberger said. “And so if our goal is to have the vitamins and the nutrients and the minerals going into kids’ systems, then we have to make sure they’re actually consuming it.”

The whole milk bill passed in the committee this week, and now heads to the full House.

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