BRINDISI REVEALS: RASH THINKING BY NYC OFFICIALS COULD SPOIL THOUSANDS OF AG JOBS ACROSS UPSTATE, INCLUDING OUR AREA; CONGRESSMAN PUSHES TO PREVENT BAN ON KIDS’ MILK CHOICES BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE; HEALTH IS MODERATION, NOT BANS
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After a recent proposal by New York City officials to roll back the availability of flavored milk in New York City schools, Congressman Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), a member of the House Agriculture Committee, joined dairy farmers and local elected officials today to call on New York City and schools across the state and country to protect nutrition in school lunches and the dairy jobs supported by flavored milk.
“Banning flavored milk hurts our kids and our hardworking farmers,” Brindisi said. “The data shows that banning flavored milk results in less nutrients for kids, more waste in our lunchrooms, and fewer jobs for our dairy workers. I am calling on the Mayor and New York City to reject a ban of flavored milk in schools so that our kids can continue to get the nutrients they need from milk—in whatever flavor they like.”
Brindisi sent a bipartisan letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio highlighting the importance of flavored milk in schools. Brindisi’s letter was signed by other members of the New York Congressional delegation including city Congresswoman Grace Meng. Other supporters of the letter are Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY), Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY).
“It would be foolish to eliminate flavored milk products from New York City public schools,” said Meng. “We know from previous studies that milk consumption has decreased in school districts which have reduced or eliminated the availability of flavored milk. Let’s avert that and ensure that our kids get the milk they need. I am thrilled to see upstate and downstate coming together to support an issue that affects all New Yorkers.”
The data shows that more than two-thirds of milk served in school is flavored and is essential to kids getting the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Research finds that children who drink flavored milk consume more nutrients of concern like calcium, vitamin D, and potassium compared to non-flavored milk drinkers.
Brindisi was joined by area producers and elected officials who echoed his concerns.
“Most children do not get enough calcium and vitamin D which is important for strong bones and healthy teeth,” said Marcy dairy farmer Terri DiNitto. “It’s especially important to children whose bodies are still growing. Chocolate milk is a great choice to meet those requirements along with other essential nutrients that milk supplies. Dairy Farmers are proud of the healthy and affordable product we produce! I want to thank Congressman Brindisi for standing up for kids and farmers on this important issue.”
“Let’s keep our eyes on the prize—children’s overall health,” said Chelsie Fuller, a 4th generation dairy farmer. “Let’s not throw important nutrients out with misplaced concerns about small amounts of sugar. No milk consumption can affect our health today and in the future. Milk is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to close the gap on the nutrients of concern, and flavored milk is an obvious favorite among school-aged children.”
“It’s past time that we recognize all the benefits drinking milk – plan or flavored – brings to children,” said Judi Whittaker, dairy farmer from Whitney Point, NY. “Chocolate milk is not only delicious it is packed full of nutrients kids need to grow and learn. We are thankful Representative Brindisi recognizes the unintended consequences of this milk ban and is working to support the nutritional needs of school-aged kids. We need more kids drinking milk, not less. Our focus should be on ensuring kids have access to necessary nutrition not restricting items based that inaccurate perceptions.”
“Schools play a vital role in providing children with important nutrients essential for growth,” said Mark Bordeau, President-Elect of the New York School Nutrition Association. “Flavored milk is a key part of that. Flavored Milk only contributes 4% of the total added sugar to children’s diets yet provides nutrients that children often lack. Research suggests that when flavored milk is removed from schools there is a 9.9% decrease in milk sales and nearly 7% fewer students participate in school lunches”.
“As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, I intend to communicate my concerns regarding the proposed ban on chocolate milk to the NYC Schools Chancellor,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo. “Eliminating this option would be a step backwards in the State’s efforts to support our dairy and other agricultural industries by including more local products as part of school meals. New York dairy products, like milk and yogurt – regardless of flavor – have helped students across the state get the important vitamins and nutrients they need.”
Congressman Brindisi has worked throughout his time in Congress to support New York dairy farmers. He and his Republican colleague from Pennsylvania Congressman Joyce introduced the Dairy and Sheep H-2A Visa Enhancement Act (H.R. 1778) to expand the H-2A program to work for dairy farmers. Brindisi and Joyce also led a group of bipartisan freshman members of Congress urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take strong action against manufacturers who falsely label non-dairy products as milk. The two members are also both co-sponsors of the bipartisan Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act to expand whole milk options in school lunchrooms.
The letter to Mayor de Blasio is below:
Dear Mayor de Blasio:
We write to share our concern with the potential elimination of flavored milk in New York City schools.
Over two-thirds of milk served in school is flavored, which represents an essential way that kids get the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Research finds that children who drink flavored milk consume more nutrients of concern like calcium, vitamin D, and potassium compared to non-flavored milk drinkers. Further, leading health groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the School Nutrition Association, and the American Heart Association also acknowledge the important role that flavored milk plays in ensuring kids get the three cups of milk and milk products recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Studies have shown that reducing or eliminating the availability of flavored milk in schools has led to overall decreased milk consumption and increased food waste. In fact, a study of Oregon schools by Cornell found total daily milk sales declined by 9.9% when flavored milk was removed from the cafeteria and was associated with 6.8% fewer students eating lunch. When flavored milk was returned to the Los Angeles Unified School District after a five-year ban, there was a 78% reduction in milk waste. In addition, there was an increase in the number of school lunches served. Studies have also shown that flavored milk consumption is not associated with weight gain or even a higher total daily sugar intake in children.
Further, most flavored milks contain less sugar than the cap recommended by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).Specifically, NASEM recommends that flavored milk have no more than 22 grams of total sugar per eight-ounce serving. Lactose is the source of roughly 12 grams of sugar in milk, and as of August 2016, the Milk Processor Education Program estimated the average amount of added sugar in flavored milk to be roughly 7.5 grams, for a total of less than 20 grams of sugar.
As Members representing both rural and urban communities, we are committed to supporting the dairy farmers, producers, and agriculture partners across New York, while also ensuring that children in NYC schools have access to critical, life-enhancing nutrients. Unfortunately, for many NYC families, the meals children receive in schools are their only source of many recommended nutrients.
Members of Congress from New York and across the country support expanded access to flavored milk in schools. The bipartisan School Milk Nutrition Act (H.R. 3125) and Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act (H.R. 832) would both expand flavored milk options in school lunchrooms and have received support from members of the New York Congressional delegation on both sides of the aisle.
We strongly urge you to continue offering children the choice of flavored milk each and every day in New York City schools. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Anthony Brindisi Grace Meng
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Antonio Delgado John Katko
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Elise Stefanik Sean Patrick Maloney
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Richard A. Carranza
New York City Department of Education
 Mary M. Murphy, Judith S. Douglass, Rachel K. Johnson, Lisa A. Spence, “Drinking flavored or plain milk is positively associated with nutrient intake and is not associated with adverse effects on weight status in US children and adolescents,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 108, no. 4 (April 2008): 631-639, doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.01.004.
2 Natalie D. Muth, William H. Dietz, Sheela N. Magge, Rachel K. Johnson, American Academy of Pediatrics, “Public Policies to Reduce Sugary Drink Consumption in Children and Adolescents,” Pediatrics 143, no. 4 (April 2019): doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-0282.
3 Cindy Fitch, Kathryn S. Keim, “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: use of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners,” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 112, no. 5 (May 2012): 739-58, doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.03.009.
4 Rachel K. Johnson, Lawrence J. Appel, Michael Brands, Barbara V. Howard, Michael Lefevre, Robert H. Lustig, Frank Sacks, Lyn M. Steffen, Judith Wylie-Rosett, “Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association,” Circulation 120, no. 11 (August 2009): 1011-1020, doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192627.
5 Hanks, Andrew et. All. Chocolate Milk Consequences: A Pilot Study Evaluating the Consequences of Banning Chocolate Milk in School Cafeterias. Plos|One. 2014. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0091022.
6 Los Angeles Unified School District. L.A. Unified Seeks to Reduce Waste via Pilot Programs Addressing Milk Waste. 2016. https://home.lausd.net/apps/news/article/625445
7 Murray, R., & Bhatia, J. J. S. (2015). Snacks, Sweetened Beverages, Added Sugars, and Schools. American Academy of Pediatrics, 135(1098), 578–579. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-3902
8 Johnson RK, Frary C, Wang MQ. The nutritional consequences of ﬂavored-milk consumption by school-aged children and adolescents in the United States. J Am Diet Assoc. 2002;102(6):853–856
9 Murphy MM, Douglass JS, Johnson RK, Spence LA. Drinking ﬂavored or plain milk is positively associated with nutrient intake and is not associated with adverse effects on weight status in US children and adolescents. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108(4):631–639
10 Institute of Medicine. Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way Toward Healthier Youth.2007.