WASHINGTON – When the House Education and Labor Committee passed on July 27 a bill that would reauthorize federal child nutrition programs, the National Milk Producers Federation and International Dairy Foods Association responded by applauding how the act would increase students’ access to milk options.

The Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act would update federal child nutrition programs by investing in school meal programs, as well as modernizing the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Additionally, it includes plans for addressing food insecurity during the summer and improving school meal capacity.

The committee’s chair, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), said the ultimate goal is to eliminate child hunger in the US.

“To do so, we must ensure that federal child nutrition programs have the resources they need to feed children,” Scott said. “The Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act takes long overdue steps to deliver on that goal by modernizing proven child nutrition programs and providing more children and families with access to nutrition assistance. This is a critical opportunity to help fulfill our basic responsibility to keep children from going hungry.”

When the committee advanced the bill, the NMPF and IDFA released a joint statement, highlighting how dairy farmers and processors in the US take pride in providing nutritious foods.

“Ensuring children and adolescents have access to nutrient-dense milk and healthful dairy foods is a top priority for NMPF, IDFA and our members,” the statement read.

“Child nutrition programs are critical to ensuring kids have access to nutritious food,” the statement continued. “We thank those across our nation who work hard every day to administer these vital programs. The Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act approved today by the House Education and Labor Committee includes provisions to provide increased access and maintain existing access to healthful dairy foods.”

The NMPF and IDFA thanked Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) for helping secure healthy milk options for schools, and said the bill takes “an important step in increasing students’ access to nutritious food by securing more permanently the ability for schools to serve all milk options consistent with the Dietary Guidelines (for Americans).”

The organizations also stated that the legislation points to the importance of the nutrients milk provides for students.

“The Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act maintains the requirement that milk substitutes be nutritionally equivalent to real milk, unless the student is being offered a substitute for medical or other diet-related needs. We will continue our efforts to further strengthen nutritional equivalency requirements to protect access to milk’s essential nutrients in child nutrition programs.”