Statement of CSPI Campaign Manager, Federal Child Nutrition Programs Meghan Maroney
Today the House Education & Workforce Committee will be considering the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2023 (H.R. 1147), a misguided and harmful bill that prioritizes corporate interests at the expense of child health. H.R. 1147 would allow school meals to offer whole milk, increasing the overall allowance of saturated fat in school meals, inconsistent with the recommendations of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
School meals are required by law to meet the Guidelines, which clearly recommend limiting saturated fat intake and choosing fat-free and low-fat milk. Schools are already statutorily mandated to offer fat-free or low-fat, flavored or unflavored milk with every school meal, and meals must meet a cap on saturated fat consistent with the Guidelines.
Even with the current science-based guidelines in place, most children exceed the recommended limits on saturated fat over the course of their day, which is troublesome given that consuming too much saturated fat is linked to raised LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, a known cause of heart disease. One in five school-aged children already have adverse cholesterol levels, which could further worsen with H.R. 1147. In effect, the bill overrides Congress’s previous directives simply because the dairy industry wants it.
Big Dairy has also amassed bipartisan support for state legislation in New York (which failed to advance) and Pennsylvania while running elaborate PR campaigns seeking to cast doubt on the science of saturated fat.
Thanks to the updated science-based school nutrition standards required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010—which included replacing whole milk with low- and fat-free milk—school meals are the healthiest meals many children consume. Congress should not be reversing this hard-fought win by making school meals less healthy by allowing whole milk. The Center for Science in the Public Interest urges Congress to protect kids’ health and oppose H.R. 1147.