Dairy Free Schools

Dairy milk is still being pushed in US Schools in 2023, despite countless evidence of not only the negative effects of milk on the body, but also the horrors of the dairy industry. This is because of the US Schools Milk Program, which reimburses schools for the milk they serve. This law creates also contributes to huge amounts of waste. “The federal government is wasting $300 million of our tax dollars a year by mandating that every school kid getting nutrition assistance has a carton of cow’s milk on the tray even though millions of them don’t want it and get sick from it.”

As animal advocates, we should campaign against this standard! Below are resources to learn more about the problematic history of dairy in US schools, and how you can advocate against this.

Pledge to advocate for #DairyFreeSchools:

Advocate Against the Special Milk Program

Not all school districts and schools enforce the milk program, but many do and still require a doctor’s note for a child to turn down the milk provided in the school lunch program. Since this varies greatly from district to district, here are some tips and ways you can figure out how to advocate for your own.

  • Talk about school meals with your federal elected officials and ask them to and ask them to stop requiring dairy milk, and to instead offer soy milk as a non-dairy alternative (it meets the same nutritional needs as dairy milk). Click here to find out who your local elected officials are!
  • Contact the USDA about the Special Milk Program, or National School Lunch program, and ask them to stop requiring dairy milk, and to instead offer soy milk as a non-dairy alternative (it meets the same nutritional needs as dairy milk). You can find your state contact here.
  • Raise awareness about the truth of the dairy industry by sharing this pledge online!

Update 5/12/23: Healthy Future Students & Earth Act Reintroduced!

This bill was just reintroduced on 5/10/23. This bill establishes a pilot program for providing 100% plant-based food and milk options in school meals. The Department of Agriculture must award up to 50 grants to school food authorities. Recipients may use funds for activities including training food service personnel on serving 100% plant-based options and covering additional costs of buying plant-based foods and milks. H.R.4108

How you can help push this bill forward:

  1. Spread the word on social media using this toolkit by Friends of the Earth US. (Thanks, FOE for this helpful and awesome resource!)
  2. Contact your Members of Congress to cosponsor the bill (sample is at the bottom of the toolkit)
  3. Share this Pledge on social media!
  4. Consider a donation to Shamayim to help us continue to campaign for change!

Photo by Yan Krukau on Pexels.com

Articles of Interest

  • The Twisted History of Milk in America
    • “To appease these farmers, the government created federal programs to artificially drive demand. The first of these programs included the 1940 Federal Milk Program for Schools and federally subsidized milk advertising under the Works Progress Administration. In 1946, President Truman passed the National School Lunch Act, which mandated each lunch include between 1 ½ to 2 pints of whole milk. In essence, since adults weren’t buying milk, the government solution was to force it onto their children. To this day, children who participate in the National School Lunch Program—which offers free or low-cost lunches to students of low-income families—are required to take a carton of dairy milk.”
  • Why Wasting Milk In Schools Is A Bigger Problem Than You Think
    • “…federal law requires milk to be served with school meals in order for state public school authorities to be reimbursed by USDA for the meals provided.”
  • Research about lactose intolerance
    • People of color, especially African Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans are more likely to be lactose intolerant. Dairy free milk options are lacking or expensive, and leave children feeling ill after lunch.
  • Health Concerns About Dairy Fact Sheet
    • “In fact, research shows that dairy products have little or no benefit  for bones. A 2005 review published in the journal Pediatrics  showed that drinking milk does not improve bone strength in  children.2 In a more recent study, researchers tracked the diets,  exercise, and stress fracture rates of young girls for seven years and  concluded that dairy products and calcium do not prevent stress  fractures in adolescent girls.3
  • Cows: Science Shows They’re Bright and Emotional Individuals
    • “Cows are truly amazing and extremely interesting beings. Often thought of as simply steak, burgers, beef, veal, leather, and global dairy producers, numerous people see them only as food items or products, rather than as highly sentient and intelligent individuals with markedly different personalities. However, a major review essay published in the journal Animal Behavior and Cognition by neuroscientist Lori Marino and Kristin Allen called “The Psychology of Cows” goes along way toward dispelling countless myths about who these bright and emotional bovines truly are.”
  • Healthy Bones: How to Build Healthy Bones without Dairy
    • “Leafy green vegetables, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and collards, are loaded with calcium. Beans, fortified juices, and plant milks are also great sources of calcium. And calcium absorption of leafy green vegetables is actually higher than cow’s milk.”

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