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Let the whole milk flow

scyther5/Getty Images Pouring milk splash
MILK IT: Two bills introduced in the House and Senate would allow schools to serve whole milk and 2% milk in school lunches, amending an Obama-era act mandating all milk in school lunches be fat free.
Skim milk isn’t the only way to teach kids about being healthy and staying active.

I have a sister-in-law who always drank skim milk. Her reasoning: She thought it was healthier. My reaction: Gross.

I don’t care if anyone drinks skim milk, but I personally think it looks like dirty water (sorry if you’re offended).

Until a few months ago, my wife and I consistently bought 1% milk for our family. It was fine. Unlike my picky 10-year-old son, I love my cereal and milk in the morning. But when my 1-year-old got cleared to drink cow’s milk by the pediatrician, we were told that the only milk he should be drinking, at least for the time being, is whole milk.

Well, let me tell you, I have rediscovered my love for whole milk. The taste is great, it’s great for baking (points for my wife) and it goes a lot better with a bowl of cereal. It makes no sense to buy 1% and whole milk for the family; why not just drink the good stuff my baby boy is getting. Winner!

I applaud Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., for introducing the Milk in Lunches for Kids, or MILK, Act, which allows schools to serve whole milk and 2% milk in school lunches. It’s aimed at amending an Obama-era act, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, that mandated that all milk in schools be fat free. Last year, USDA announced a waiver program to allow schools to serve 1% flavored milk in lunches.

House Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., along with Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., chairman of the House Ag Committee, introduced a similar bill earlier this year, the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2019, that does essentially the same as the Senate bill. It’s been referred to the House Education and Labor Committee and has 27 co-sponsors.

I don’t blame the effort to place fat-free milk in schools. Childhood obesity is a problem, one that affects kids from low-income and minority households at higher rates. These kids often get their only healthy meal of the day during school lunch. Why not provide healthier options for them?

But skim milk? Surely, we can do better than that.

I’ve always thought that the key to getting people, especially kids, to eat healthier and lose weight is by educating them. Yes, money has something to do with it; if you have more money, you can afford the more expensive, “healthier” options. But I’d rather spend more of my dollar on fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods because in the long run I know I’ll be healthier. Eating healthier is like an insurance policy on your long-term health.

Oh, and before I forget, exercise is also key. I battle my son to get off his Xbox every day, but once he’s off the couch and walking and playing outside he’s a totally different kid. He’s happier, he’s playing with friends and he has a better attitude.

There are many opinions and studies on whether whole milk should be part of a healthy diet. I’m not going to argue one way or another.

All I’ll say is that I grew up poor, and I remember asking my mom what her favorite milk was. Hands down, raw milk was her favorite. She loved the natural taste of milk straight from the cow, just as nature intended. Whole milk isn’t raw milk, but it’s closer to it. And I love it.

Hopefully my kids will start loving milk, too. My middle son loves it; we just have to get the other two on board.

So, let the milk flow. Maybe other kids will start loving milk, too.

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