Whole and 2% milk options won’t yet return to school cafeteria menus after the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act, was blocked Thursday by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan.
The bipartisan bill initially passed the House on Wednesday in a 330-99 vote. The proposal would have reversed 2010 legislation that limited schools to only serving fat-free or 1% milk.
Though Stabenow — who is also the chair of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee — expressed support for the dairy products to be served as part of healthy school meals, she acknowledged the U.S. Department of Agriculture is still in the process of updating school meal standards based on the latest dietary science recommendations.
“Dairy is a very important part of a balanced meal, but one thing is clear, and that is school meal standards currently based on dietary science should continue to be based on dietary science, not based on which individual food products that we support … in our states,” Stabenow said Thursday on the Senate floor.
The measure was blocked after Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, requested unanimous consent on the Senate floor to pass the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act. Marshall proposed the move touting the nutritional benefits of whole milk.
“The benefits of whole milk can’t be overlooked and certainly not substituted with skim milk or 1%. And certainly not by artificially flavored milk that’s loaded with empty calories,” Marshall said on the Senate floor. “Bringing more healthy options back to school cafeterias is a slam dunk for American families.”
The USDA is expected to publish its final rule on updates to school meal nutrition standards by April. The proposal aims to adjust requirements for school cafeterias to offer mostly whole grain products while gradually reducing sugar and sodium levels between fall 2024 and fall 2029.