IDFA this week urged Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to quickly finalize plans for low-fat flavored milk’s return to school menus for the 2018-2019 school year. In a joint letter with the National Milk Producers Federation, IDFA thanked Secretary Perdue for his efforts to provide flexibility for milk options in schools and requested the department finalize regulations by October 2017.
"It is critical that the regulatory process move quickly so schools can include low-fat favored milk in their menu planning and procurement processes and so that milk processors will have ample time to formulate milks to meet their needs,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO.
In May, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) issued a memo to regional and state nutrition program directors that “strongly encourages” state agencies to grant exemptions that would allow schools to serve low-fat flavored milk during the 2017-2018 school year.
However, the dairy groups explained in the letter, the process most schools use for the solicitation of bids for an entire school year would likely delay procurement of low-fat flavored milk until January 2018 for the following school year. “With the planning for the bid season starting early in 2018, processors need some certainty by October 2017,” they said.
“Consumption of milk in schools dropped dramatically when only fat-free flavored milk was permitted in 2012,” said Dykes. “Milk provides children and teens essential nutrients that are vital for growth and development, like calcium, vitamin D and potassium, which is why we need to move as quickly as possible to reverse this decline.”
For more information contact Dave Carlin, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.