Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I-Schoharie) has introduced a bill that would allow schools to purchase whole and 2% milk that’s produced within the state, following the passage of a similar measure in Pennsylvania. Currently, whole and 2% milk is prohibited from being served in schools due to a federal restriction put in place 10 years ago that was intended to lower childhood obesity and diabetes rates. Following the implementation of this restriction, these rates have continued to rise, and many have become concerned that the restriction could even be exacerbating the problem.
While it has long been thought that fat free and 1% milk is inherently healthier than 2% and whole milk, recent studies have called that conclusion into question. Such studies have found those who consume whole-fat dairy may have a lower risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure, an increased satiety without weight gain and better sleep. In what may be the most notable of these recent findings, it has been observed that children who consume full-fat dairy are usually leaner than their peers who do not, while also having a lower risk of becoming overweight.
“Since whole and 2% milk has been taken out of our schools, the effects we’ve seen have been nothing but negative for both our children and our farmers,” said Tague. “If this can be done in Pennsylvania, it can be done right here in New York state too, where they can truly use a lifeline.”
In the wake of this federal action, milk consumption among children has decreased and milk dumping on upstate dairy farms has risen, as already-struggling farmers have seen demand for milk decline from the school districts they rely upon to make ends meet. This bill seeks to address these issues by providing children across the state with a full variety of milk to choose from during mealtimes, including whole and 2% milk, while helping dairy farmers recover from the effects this federal restriction has had on their livelihoods and the viability of their farms.
“With the proposed reduction to the laborer overtime threshold in New York, and the difficult business climate farmers are operating under, passing this bill will hopefully help keep their farms open,” said Tague. “It also encourages our kids to consume more of the nutritious, locally-produced milk their growing bodies need.”