The International Dairy Foods Association applauds Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT), co-chair of the U.S. House Dairy Caucus, for introducing last week the Healthy Milk and Dairy Choices in Schools Act of 2010. The bill would require milk served in school lunches to be consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends lowfat and nonfat varieties. This provision has been broadly proposed and supported by a variety of organizations, including the American Dietetic Association, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the National Milk Producers Federation and the School Nutrition Association.

The bill, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), also would allow more schools to qualify for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's milk reimbursement program and would create a pilot program to help schools switch to lowfat cheeses in school meals. The bill has been referred to the House Education and Labor Committee for review.

"IDFA commends Reps. Courtney and DeLauro for taking these steps to ensure that more school-age kids will get the calcium they need for building strong bones," said Ruth Saunders, IDFA vice president of policy and legislative affairs. "And expanding the milk reimbursement program will allow more schools to provide nutrient-rich beverages in place of lower-cost, but nutrient-void alternatives."

Milk consumption in schools has been declining in recent years while sales of sports drinks and carbonated beverages have increased, and that's a worrisome trend, Saunders said. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 percent of teenage girls and 70 percent of teenage boys do not get enough calcium in their diets.

The lowfat cheese pilot program is based on USDA's successful whole wheat pilot, which allowed schools to try new menu items not currently being served. If the bill passes, more schools would be able to offer many types and varieties of cheeses with reduced fat.

Source: International Dairy Foods Association