Americans are drinking less milk—and Congress wants to change that.
Republican Rep. Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania and Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut introduced a bill on Tuesday that they describe as a way to "preserve milk's integral role in school meals."
Milk consumption in the U.S. has declined in recent years. Whole milk has been particularly hard hit while low-fat varieties of milk have fared considerably better, according to data from the Department of Agriculture.
Those statistics have troubled the dairy industry and its supporters on Capitol Hill.
"Milk is the number one source of nine essential nutrients in many young American's diets and provides many significant health benefits," Thompson said in a statement, adding that his bill "seeks to reverse the decline of milk consumption in schools."
To achieve that aim, the bill would reaffirm "the requirement that milk is offered with each meal" served by a school meal program.
It would also allow schools to give kids the option of drinking low-fat flavored milk, as opposed to fat-free, and create a pilot program intended to get more milk into schools, in part through the use of more attractive packaging and merchandising.
The bill won applause from dairy-industry groups, including the National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association.
It may be taken up when Congress votes to reauthorize school nutrition programs later this year.