Working to supply 30 million children in 99,000 schools with healthy and appealing meals, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Thursday that the Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements rule has been finalized.
The rule provides the option to offer flavored, low-fat milk to children participating in school meal programs, and to participants ages 6 and older in the Special Milk Program for Children and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
Additionally, the law requires half of the weekly grains in the school lunch and breakfast menu be whole grain-rich and will also provide more time to reduce sodium levels in school meals.
“USDA is committed to serving meals to kids that are both nutritious and satisfying,” Perdue said in a press release. “These common-sense flexibilities provide excellent customer service to our local school nutrition professionals, while giving children the world-class food service they deserve.”
Milk consumption in schools has decreased over the past eight years as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, according to U.S. Reps. G.T. Thompson (R-PA).
“If schools have more options, students are going to drink more milk, which was once a staple in the diet of our student populations,” Thompson said. “I applaud Agriculture Secretary Purdue for taking this important action to ensure students are receiving meals that are both nutritious and satisfying.”
The ruling has been praised not only by schools, but by producers and dairy cooperatives as well.
“This is great news, not only for dairy farmers and processors, but also for schoolkids across the U.S.,” says John Rettler, president of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative. “This is a step in the right direction in ensuring that school cafeterias are able to provide valuable nutrition in options that appeal to growing children’s taste buds. Their good habits now have the potential to make them lifelong milk-drinkers.”