Whole Milk in Schools is a No-Brainer

By: Dave McCormick, U.S. Senate Candidate
Lancaster Farming
March 17, 2024

After Philadelphia native Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in Hershey during an NBA game — a record that still hasn’t been topped — how did he celebrate? By chugging a carton of milk.

It’s an iconic photo and one of many sports moments involving dairy. Wilt, like so many other Pennsylvanians, grew up with a deep appreciation for the health benefits of milk.

Decades later, milk consumption has fallen dramatically. So where did all that enthusiasm for this classic American dairy product go?

In 2010, at former First Lady Michelle Obama’s urging, Congress passed a law effectively banning whole milk from the National School Lunch Program. The change to the program, which provides meals to students in nearly 100,000 schools across the country, was justified as a way to reduce child obesity. At the time, fats were seen as the ultimate sin when it came to health outcomes.

But over the last 14 years, nutritional science has evolved and dozens of studies have proven the aversion to dairy fat was completely misguided.

No wonder the ban on whole milk hasn’t done anything to prevent weight gain in kids. In fact, one study from the National Library of Medicine found that whole milk actually reduced the odds of obesity in children by 18%. Additional research has shown dairy fat can help to lower the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and Type 2 diabetes.

Making matters worse, this boneheaded move has prevented kids from receiving a key source of nutrition and protein.

Thankfully, my friend, Rep. G.T. Thompson who chairs the Agriculture Committee, led the charge to pass the Whole Milk For Healthy Kids Act in the House of Representatives this past December. The bill would put whole milk back in the National School Lunch Program as an option for students.
This bill passed by a wide bipartisan margin — a rare feat in our polarized times.

Republicans and Democrats alike agreed whole milk is good for promoting stronger, healthier kids and supporting the nation’s dairy farmers.

The push to put whole milk in our schools now lies before the Senate, where it has bipartisan support, including from Pennsylvania’s junior Sen. John Fetterman.

But my opponent, Sen. Bob Casey, opposes the bill despite the clear scientific evidence of whole milk’s benefits for Pennsylvania’s growing children.

When asked about the bill, Sen. Casey hides behind the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. But leading researchers have noted they are outdated and that the latest science demands “a reevaluation of unrelenting guidelines to avoid whole-fat dairy products.”

For years, members of Congress have pushed the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, which oversee the guidelines, to accept the overwhelming scientific consensus on whole milk. But these federal bureaucrats continue to drag their feet, and the next potential update to the guidelines won’t be completed until the end of next year. Even then, there is no guarantee the guidelines will change.

We can’t continue to sit back and do nothing. The only option is congressional action.

In refusing to support the Whole Milk For Healthy Kids Act, Sen. Casey has sided with excessive regulation and junk science over Pennsylvania kids’ welfare. This stance is emblematic of how Bob Casey and others on the far left see the role of government — top-down control that is wielded to override common sense, free enterprise and individual choice by Americans.

Casey’s failed leadership is also a slap in the face to the 5,000 dairy farms that call our commonwealth home, almost all of which are family-owned. These hard-working communities — and the roughly 47,000 jobs they support — aren’t asking for a government handout or mandate. Pennsylvania dairies are just asking for a fair shake and the opportunity to see their hard work help improve the health and well-being of the next generation.

Growing up in Bloomsburg working on local farms baling hay and trimming Christmas trees, I saw just how vital agriculture is to Pennsylvania’s entrepreneurial spirit (and my grandfather owned a dairy in Punxsutawney). That’s why as your next U.S. Senator, I’d work hard to get this whole milk legislation across the finish line. It’s time our commonwealth had an independent leader in Washington who isn’t afraid to cut red tape and fight for the needs of our farmers and our citizens.