Both the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) commended the House Education and Workforce Committee for approving the improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 which includes key provisions aiding both the dairy and frozen food industries.

Specifically, the legislation addresses the declining consumption of milk at schools across the country.

“This bill takes an important step toward reversing the decline in school milk consumption by asking USDA to examine how to ensure that kids are getting enough milk,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “By better aligning the school lunch program with the dietary guidelines, options including 1 percent flavored milk will be back on the lunch tray in school cafeterias as a result of this legislation.”

The dairy organizations voiced their support for the Thompson-Courtney amendment in a joint letter sent Tuesday to Reps. John Kline and Robert Scott – the committee chair and ranking member, respectively – of the House Education Committee.

That amendment bolsters recommendations made in the DGA, released earlier this year, which says current laws should continue to make milk integral to all the child nutrition programs. It also requires adjustments as necessary to promote better consumption of milk by the nation’s students and to permit schools to offer all varieties consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The bill also provides innovative approaches to meet the needs of lactose-intolerant children.

The bill also includes a provision that allows schools to serve a greater range of fruits and vegetables, including those that are frozen, canned or dried. The program currently restricts schools to serving only fresh produce.

“USDA’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognize the value of frozen fruits and vegetables. As confirmed by Frozen Food Foundation-commissioned nutritional studies conducted by the Universities of Georgia (UGA) and California-Davis (UC Davis), frozen fruits and vegetables are as rich in nutrients, and often more so, than fresh-stored produce,” says Alison Bodor, AFFI president and CEO. “This legislation ensures all forms of fruits and vegetables will meet certain nutrition requirements to provide kids with access to the most nutritious fruit and vegetable options.”

The bill will now move to consideration by the full U.S. House of Representatives.