On Thursday, Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall attempted to secure unanimous consent on the Senate floor for a bill aimed at reintroducing whole milk in school lunches. However, his initiative faced immediate opposition from the chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, leading to its swift dismissal.
The senator began his speech with a glass of whole milk, saying that milk and water are the only drinks allowed on the Senate floor.
“Milk is the most delicious, most nutritious, wholesome drink known to humankind. There’s nothing else ever been made anything like it,” Marshall said.
The Senator shared that his dad grew up on a Holstein dairy, where they milked cows 365 days a year. The family had milk on the table for lunch, supper, and even for snacks at school — sometimes, even two cartons.
“If you didn’t leave whole milk out for Santa Claus, then he wouldn’t leave you presents,” quipped Marshall.
When Marshall asked for unanimous consent to approve the bill, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Michigan, objected, claiming that while she supports the dairy industry and calls the debate on whole milk “a really important conversation,” she added that government policy regarding school meals should follow the latest dietary science.
“Dairy is a very important part of a balanced meal, but one thing that’s clear is that school-meal standards — currently based on dietary science — should continue to be based on dietary science, not based on which individual food product that we support or are in our states,” Stabenow said, encouraging groups to engage in the USDA’s process of updating school-meal standards.
H.R. 1147, the Whole Milk For Healthy Kids Act passed the House on Wednesday with bipartisan support in a 330-99 vote. Had Marshall succeeded with a unanimous nod in the Senate, the bill’s next stop would have been President Joe Biden’s desk.
The body of research supporting the benefits of fuller-fat milk has grown more robust since the Obama-era restrictions were put in place, with research showing that dairy foods at higher fat levels are linked to outcomes such as lower total body mass in kids and lower childhood obesity. At the time and through today, keeping whole and 2 percent milk off school meal menus has been out of step with what parents give their own children.
»Related: House passes bill reinstating schools’ ability to serve whole milk