The Government Is Putting More Dairy Back in School Lunches
That's good news for the dairy business, but not necessarily for kids
In 2018, Big Milk was hurting. A rise in dairy alternatives like oat milk and almond milk helped lead to an enormous dairy surplus, which meant that the country was sitting on a whole lot of cheese—1.39 billion pounds, to be exact.
Millennials aren't drinking as much milk as their predecessors, and lactose tolerance remains limited mostly to people of northern European descent. But in 2019, things are looking up for the dairy industry thanks to the Trump administration's decision to loosen regulations around school lunches. In other words, as Bloomberg Businessweek reports, the school lunches of America are about to get an infusion of so, so much dairy.
School lunches and children's nutrition were, as you might recall, major priorities of the Obama administration and First Lady Michelle Obama in particular. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act meant that schools got more money if they complied with dietary standards that included lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. The Obama administration also determined that all flavored milks available at school needed to be skim milk, meaning that the volume of milk consumed by kids dropped a great deal. Doctors and nutritionists were happy about this development. But do you know who was not? The businesses that were pushing high-salt, high-fat foods, and the dairy industry. Some kids, presumably, were not thrilled about all that skim chocolate milk.
Now, as Bloomberg Businessweek details, those regulations have been relaxed considerably, and the era of more healthful school lunches may be coming to an end. The Department of Agriculture finalized the new rules in December, which means that 2019 is the dawn of the era of more salt, sugar, and dairy in schools. Those in favor: dairy business people. Those opposed: the American Heart Association, among several other health groups, which published a letter pushing back on the changes. But to no avail. Look to the lunchrooms of America serving up a lot more milk and cheese in the future.