The U.S. House passed the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act, a bipartisan bill allowing whole milk and 2% milk to return to school cafeteria menus as part of the National School Lunch Program, in a 330-99 vote Wednesday.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina, chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said in a statement that passing the law "would be a critical step towards empowering parents and securing our children's well-being." Not doing so, she said, would prevent children from getting important nutrients and "threatens to inhibit their development."
Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pennsylvania, chair of the House Committee on Agriculture, said "out-of-touch and outdated federal regulations have imposed restrictions on the types of milk students have access to in school meals."
Regulations limiting milk options for schools surfaced under the Obama administration, when former First Lady Michelle Obama championed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
Studies suggest the Obama-era policies had benefits.
The policies were associated with better dietary quality of lunches for students across multiple socioeconomic backgrounds, including low-income children, according to a 2020 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
However, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say the bipartisan bill that could overturn some of those policy changes will provide schools more options and benefit children by enhancing the milk offerings with vitamin D, calcium, potassium and other nutrients.
“By allowing schools to provide students with a larger selection of milk, our bipartisan Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act would help kids maintain a diet of essential nutrients and build healthy habits," said Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Virginia, in a statement Wednesday. "I’m glad to see Republicans and Democrats agree on the need to support healthy kids, and I encourage my U.S. Senate colleagues to follow our lead and send this legislation to the President’s desk.”