Tennessee bill would allow schools to dispense whole milk

Published 6:47 pm Friday, March 8, 2024

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By Jon Styf

The Center Square

The Tennessee Senate is expected to take on legislation allowing public schools to serve whole milk again in Tennessee.

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The U.S. House passed a similar measure – called the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act – in December before it was blocked in the Senate waiting for updated U.S. Department of Agriculture school meal standards.

In 2010, the Obama administration instituted rules allowing only skim and 1% milk to be served in schools.

Senate Bill 1914 would allow whole milk and whole chocolate milk to be served.

“They changed the rule that we can legally put whole milk back in schools if it’s in dispensers,” said Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains. “We can’t in little cartons.”

Niceley noted whole milk is a great way for kids to absorb calcium.

The bill passed the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and Senate Calendar Committee unanimously.

Companion House Bill 2480 is set to be heard in the House Education Administration Committee on Wednesday after passing the K-12 Subcommittee on Tuesday.

Rep. Mark Cochran, R-Englewood, said federal provisions only apply to food served on a lunch tray, so whole milk dispensers would not count as school lunch service. Cochran’s district includes Mayfield Dairy Farms in Athens.