The Senate Agriculture Committee has voted to reauthorize child nutrition programs that backers say improves integrity in school meal programs while ensuring that access to the programs for eligible participants is not compromised. In the end, Democrats and Republicans came together to send the legislation to the Senate floor.

“This bipartisan legislation is a true compromise,” said committee chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS). “Not everyone got everything they wanted, but a lot of folks have a lot to be happy about.”

The dairy industry was pleased with the outcome. Both the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) praised the final product for what they said was a re-emphasis on milk's place on school menus.

“The bill will help reverse the trend of declining milk consumption in schools, a trend that unfortunately is in direct conflict with federal Dietary Guidelines, which say children should be drinking more milk for lifelong health,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.

The Senate bill also calls on USDA to address the needs of lactose-intolerant students by offering lactose-free milk through the USDA Foods Program.