If Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, had his way, Americans would drink more milk. And apparently it’s an issue that reaches across aisles.
Courtney is a co-sponsor of H.R. 2407, spearheaded by Republican Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., the purpose of which is to “to reverse declining milk consumption in schools.”
“As our nation works to replace ‘empty calorie’ foods in our children’s school meals, one thing is clear — low-fat dairy is the opposite of ‘empty,’” Courtney said in a release. “It packs valuable nutrients including protein, potassium, and calcium — a solid foundation for building a healthy menu in America’s schools.”
Both Courtney and Thompson, by the way, each received more than $20,000 from the agricultural services and products industry in 2014, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets.org.
As it turns out, milk consumption has steadily declined since the 1970s, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013.
The report, which looked at surveys spanning decades between the 1970s and 2000s, found that “the share of pre-adolescent children who did not drink fluid milk on a given day rose from 12 percent to 24 percent, while the share that drank milk three or more times per day dropped from 31 to 18 percent” during that period.
The USDA study concluded that the decrease in milk consumption is generational, irrespective of race.
If you were born before 1930 (and are thankfully still with us) you drink milk 1.1 times as often as your child born in the early 1960s, according to the USDA. Your grandchild, born in the early 1980s, drinks milk 0.3 fewer times than that.
“Between 1977-78 and 2007-08, the share of adolescents and adults who did not drink fluid milk on a given day rose from 41 percent to 54 percent, while the share that drank milk three or more times per day dropped from 13 to 4 percent,” the report says.
The National School Lunch Program stipulates that schools must provide milk, and that it must be low-fat or skim, rather than whole. The so-called School Milk Nutrition Act of 2015 would reauthorize that stipulation and loosen the restrictions on how flavored milk may be sold in schools, allowing schools to serve low-fat flavored milk — rather than only fat-free – if the milk contains no more than 150 calories per 8-ounce serving.
The bill would also establish a pilot program intended to increase milk consumption, focusing on improvements to packaging, flavors, and merchandising.
“Milk is the number one source of nine essential nutrients in many young American’s diets and provides many significant health benefits,” Thompson said.
Larson Heading to Cuba
Kennedy went to Berlin in 1963. Nixon went to China in 1972. Now Connecticut’s Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, will take part in the latest potentially historic political journey abroad with a trip to Cuba.
Unfortunately for Larson and the other members of the Congressional delegation led by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., the weather forecast in Havana this weekend is for rain with a high of 72.
The purpose of the trip, according to a release issued by Larson’s office, is to meet with Cuban officials and business owners, and their counterparts from the United States, to “further open relations with Cuba through trade and tourism and by expanding opportunities for cultural exchange between American and Cuban citizens.”
Udall and Larson will be joined by Sen. Alan Franken, D-Minn., and Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.
Jordan Fenster is an award-winning freelance journalist. He lives with his family in Fairfield County. He can be reached by or @JordanFenster on Twitter.
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