School is back in full swing – children are getting to know their new teachers, classmates and the items available on the school meal lines. And while many of the old favorites will be there (my kids are especially happy to see chicken patty sandwiches and cheese pizza on the menu!), there may also be new milk options in some schools.
In 2012, changes were made to the school lunch and school breakfast requirements that were intended to enhance the nutritional quality of these meals. One of the changes was to continue to allow flavored milk to be offered with meals, but only if the flavored milk was fat free. But some students who preferred low-fat flavored milk stopped opting for milk altogether, and this meant they were missing out on the important nutrients in milk.
On May 1, 2017, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that additional flexibility would be allowed for schools to ensure that children are actually eating the nutritious options available through the school meal programs. USDA followed up that announcement with a memo that gave states the ability to grant exemptions from the requirement that flavored milk must be fat free. This exemption could be provided if a school district can demonstrate that there is less milk consumption by students or more school milk waste. An interim final rule is also in process to make this flexibility permanent.
This means that states are able to give permission to school districts to add low-fat flavored milk back to the milk offerings for breakfast, lunch and a la carte sales. This is great news for those kids who need the nutrition provided by milk and weren’t finding their preferred option in the lunch line.