by Michael Wren
SHARON SPRINGS, NY – For over a decade, schools across the nation have not been able to serve 2% and whole milk in their cafeterias due to a federal mandate. This law was imposed due to the belief that less fat in milk would help to curb childhood obesity; however, new studies suggest the opposite. A 2017 study on full fat milk consumption showed that those who drank whole milk were less likely to be obese. This study pointed to the same findings as a 2013 study of almost 2,000 Swedish men that showed a low consumption of dairy fat was associated with a higher risk of obesity while a high consumption of milk fat was associated with lower rates of obesity.
Since the implementation of the federal law banning 2% and whole milk in public schools, milk consumption has decreased and milk waste has increased.
On May 2 at Ridgedale Farms, New York Assemblyman Chris Tague announced a bill to bring 2% and whole milk produced in New York State back into schools. This announcement was met with enthusiasm from farmers and educators alike. Speakers in support of the bill included NYS Senator George Borrello, Anita Murphy (Capital Region BOCES district superintendent), Ray Dykeman (Dykeman and Sons Farm), Todd Heyn (manager and training specialist at the County Farm Bureau) and Tonya Van Slyke (Northeast Dairy Producers Association executive director). Also in support of the bill is 97milk.com, founded in 2019, which aims to educate consumers on the true facts of milk by community involvement.
“We should give children the choice,” said Borrello about what milk is offered in schools. He also spoke of the importance of whole milk for both the schoolchildren getting proper nutrition and for the farmers across the Empire State having a stable outlet for their products. “We want to support farmers because they feed us,” stated Borrello.
Nutritionist Toni Amidore pointed out that whole milk contains nutrients vital for children to grow and thrive, noting, “Three of the most under-consumed nutrients are found in whole milk” (those being calcium, vitamin D and potassium). Amidore also pointed out that the fat in milk is good and part of an overall healthy diet.
Ray Dykeman of Dykeman and Sons Farm said, “Milk is nature’s perfect beverage.” He noted that vitamins and nutrients found naturally in milk are beyond compare to many other drinks offered in schools. Dykeman also brought to light the importance of agriculture and especially milk production in New York.
Pennsylvania has just passed similar legislation that will bring whole and 2% milk back into the public education system. Tague ended the conference urging people to contact their local representative in support of this bill and to “put whole milk back in our schools.”