Congressman Troy A Carter, Sr (D-LA) and Congresswoman Nancy Mace (R-SC) introduced the bipartisan Addressing Digestive Distress in Stomachs of Our Youth (ADD SOY) Act, a bill that requires schools to provide fluid milk substitutes upon request of a student or parent/guardian.
Despite the bill’s unfortunately misleading name, the legislation does not mandate the addition of soy milk specifically but does ensure the availability of milk substitutes.
The act could lead to other allergens being introduced into cafeterias, including soy, tree nuts, and seeds.
You can see the text of the legislation here. A press release announcing the legislation follows here in its entirety.
Reps. Carter, Mace Introduce Bill to Require Milk Alternatives in Schools
The ADD SOY Act Embraces Diversity at the Lunch Counter
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr. (D-La.) and Congresswoman Nancy Mace (R-Sc.) introduced the bipartisan Addressing Digestive Distress in Stomachs of Our Youth (ADD SOY) Act, a bill which requires schools to provide fluid milk substitutes upon request of a student or parent/guardian.
The ADD SOY Act makes soy milk available to children in schools who need an alternative to cow’s milk. This is especially important because large numbers of minority children particularly Black, Latino, Native American, and Asian-American, are lactose intolerant. These children experience adverse health effects simply because, in practice, dairy is the only type of milk offered in schools.
“It is abundantly clear that the current milk substitute system that USDA employs is delivering detrimental impacts on BIPOC school children,” said Rep. Carter. “Too many children who cannot safely or comfortably consume dairy are being forced to accept containers of cow’s milk on their lunch trays. My ADD SOY Act ensures the health and nutritional needs of all our nation’s students are met. America needs to embrace its diversity at the lunch counter.”
“The federal government is wasting $300 million of our tax dollars a year by mandating that every school kid getting nutrition assistance has a carton of cow’s milk on the tray even though millions of them don’t want it and get sick from it,” said Rep. Mace. “Thirty percent of kids throw the milk away in the carton, and hundreds of millions of tax dollars wasted is not spilled milk. Kids should have a healthy choice in lunchrooms.”
“Our nation’s ‘milk mandate’ is a sure-fire way to cause digestive distress and to impede classroom learning for millions of school kids with lactose-intolerance,” said Wayne Pacelle, President of Animal Wellness Action. “It’s also a matter of reckless food and fiscal waste, easily remedied by giving kids a soymilk option. We are excited to work with Reps. Troy Carter and Nancy Mace to deliver nutritional choice in the lunchroom.”
The rates of lactose intolerance in BIPOC communities are startlingly high, with 65 percent of Latino students, 75 percent of Black students, and 90 percent of Asian students unable to digest dairy milk without detrimental effects. Many children may not make the connection between consumption of the product and their feelings of discomfort and even illness. Currently, children who suffer adverse reactions from cow’s milk must produce a doctor’s note if they choose not to accept traditional milk with their lunch, this is in part due to Congress’ onerous “milk note” requirement. This requirement is an issue of equity as it places an unfair burden squarely on minority children.
Lactose-intolerance causes a range of health effects, from stomach pains to severe bloating to gas and diarrhea to even exacerbated asthma symptoms. This makes learning more difficult for children. Additionally, A USDA report in 2019 calculated the value of unopened, discarded milk at $300 million annually.
The ADD SOY Act is endorsed by Animal Wellness Action.
Full bill text can be found here.