Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, reintroduced the Protecting School Milk Choices Act, which would ensure schools participating in the National School Lunch Program offer students at least one flavored milk option.
After New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ proposal to ban flavored milk in New York City schools, Stefanik led this effort to prevent local limitations on flavored milk in the federal school lunch program in order to preserve the choices of schools and students.
“Our dairy farmers in Upstate New York and the North Country work hard to produce nutritious milk for our communities, and I am proud to lead legislation to ensure a variety of milk choices for our school children. Any effort of Mayor Adams to ban chocolate milk and replace it with vegan juice is an absolute non-starter and will be opposed by parents, families, kids, and New Yorkers. Instead of taking away milk choices from students, my bill will give them better access to essential dairy nutrients critical for their development, and I will continue to lead the effort to protect real dairy products in schools for the sake of our kids. Let our New York students drink chocolate milk!” Stefanik said.
"The federal government has demonized milk, resulting in a lost generation of milk drinkers, despite the clear nutritional benefits," said Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture GT Thompson. "Young minds work best when students have nutrition to fuel learning. We should be offering more options in schools, not fewer."
Milk served in school is an essential way kids receive the necessary dairy nutrients they need for healthy growth and development, but kids are not receiving enough of calcium, vitamin D, and potassium, which are found in milk. A national study showed that when flavored milk is removed from elementary schools, kids drink less milk.
"The goal of every parent and educator should be providing young people with healthy, well-balanced school meals. Countless studies have proven the nutritional value of milk to a growing child, and it is important that school menus provide smart choices which can increase participation in school breakfast and lunch programs. Many studies have also shown how chocolate milk is a good recovery drink for student athletes after a workout or game. New York Farm Bureau appreciates Rep. Stefanik's support of New York dairy and as well as giving children healthy options in the school cafeteria," said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President.
“The Protecting School Milk Choices Act of 2023 ensures that schools are consistent with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans by offering low-fat flavored milk as a choice for children to get milk’s 13 essential nutrients for growth, development, healthy immune function, and overall wellness. A wide majority of parents and medical and nutrition professionals know that offering low-fat flavored milk increases school meal participation, reduces food waste, and maintains the high nutritional value of school meals for children and adolescents," said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association.
Last year, Stefanik joined a bipartisan group of her colleagues in sending a letter to Mayor Adams calling on him to abandon his proposal to ban flavored milk in New York City Schools. Following Stefanik’s advocacy, Mayor Adams announced a temporary delay in his decision to ban chocolate milk in schools.
This legislation was cosponsored by Representatives GT Thompson (R-PA), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Brandon Williams (R-NY), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Nick Langworthy (R-NY), Marc Molinaro (R-NY), and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA).
Read the full bill text here.