Better Milk in Schools

by Rob English

Do your children throw away the milk they receive at school? Did you?

Through its Nutritional Assistance Program, the US government provides a billion dollars’ worth of free lunch milk and free breakfast milk to millions of school children in the United States, yet thirty percent of the kids throw that milk away. Why? Because it makes them sick.

According to US Congressional Representative Troy Carter, sixty-five percent of Latino children are lactose intolerant – they suffer stomach discomfort because they cannot digest the bovine sugar in cows’ milk. Seventy-five percent of African kids can’t digest it, nor can ninety percent of Asian, nor can 100 percent of Native American children.

Millions of perceptive kids have figured out that it’s better to just throw away the free milk rather than drink it and then deal with the discomfort and nausea of a bubbling stomach that distracts from their lessons. At worst, a bright child who drinks the milk and feels sick in school risks being labeled as a poor learner and placed in classes that miss his or her learning potential. And of course, stomach discomfort can affect not only the child’s academic life, but also his or her social life and behavioral outlook. Discarding the free cows’ milk is the right thing for the child to do, although all together the discarded milk equals a discarded 300 million dollars of taxpayer money.

So should we throw away the whole Nutritional Milk Program? No. Representative Carter suggests a solution – a course correction: provide the schoolchildren an option for soy milk. Soy milk is equally nutritious as cows’ milk but does not have the troublesome lactose. Millions of children would be better off.

Representative Carter and his Republican, Democratic, and Independent congressional supporters explain that the ADD SOY Act (HR1619) is not as an attack on the Dairy Industry, but instead it is a fight for the health of young people. Those of us who have concern for children AND cows hope that the proposal will succeed. Small dairy farms are more under attack from giant agroprocessors than soy milk, but cows’ milk will be available for a long time to come for those who can digest it.

For more information on the worthy topic of adding a soy milk option in schools, see the excellent English language webinar on YouTube entitled, Ending the USDA’s Milk Mandate in Schools and Providing a Milk Based Option for Kids. It’s a production of Animal Wellness Action in concert with Representative Carter and the Switch for Good organization.

Photo of boy drinking milk by Samer Daboul and photo of students on their lunch break by Pavel Danilyuk from

Rob English is a member of People for Animal Rights, a grassroots organization in Central New York,

Contact People for Animal Rights
P.O. Box 3333
Syracuse, NY 13220
(315) 708-4520

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