Lawmakers want kids to reach for the moo juice

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 11, 2003

How much milk are your kids drinking?

U.S. Rep. Gil Gutknecht, R-Minn., is co-sponsoring a bill that, if passed, would provide students with more opportunities to drink milk in public schools.

According to Bryan Anderson, a spokesman for Gutknecht, milk would be more available to students in three ways. First, schools would be able to offer alternative types of milk, such as strawberry-flavored milk or lactose-free milk. Second, schools would provide more access to milk &045; for example, by offering it at school events. And third, schools would receive incentives for &uot;implementing nutrition plans increasing milk consumption.&uot;

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U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., sponsored the bill. The representative’s chief of staff, Lanier Avant, said schools would receive a greater meal reimbursement from the government if they offer different types of milk.

The bill also proposes a grant program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Schools would get some of the grant money if they create programs that emphasize physical and dietary health.

&uot;Some examples are a class about child obesity or a lecture series about good diets,&uot; Avant said.

Participation would be up to each school.

According to Mary Nelson, Albert Lea schools food service director, milk comes with the breakfasts and lunches that the schools serve. But she said that &uot;there are lots of kids that don’t drink milk.&uot; Two primary reasons she noted are that many do not drink milk at home and that there are more tempting options available, such as pop and Kool-Aid.

Strawberry- and chocolate-flavored milk are available in the high school, but not in the elementary schools.

&uot;I think some students would drink more milk if there was more flavored milk available,&uot; Nelson said.

But she added, &uot;We are not the only influence on the children.&uot;

The bill amends the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, which provides schools with assistance for the operation of school lunch programs.

(Contact Benjamin Dipman at or 379-3439.)