Civil rights groups have called for the federal government to correct “dietary racism” in its subsidized meal program
Reports say that dozens of US food and race activist groups signed on to a letter in which they accused the federal government. “dietary racism” in its program for free or subsidized school lunches, saying the USDA is forcing millions of non-white, lactose-intolerant children to drink cow’s milk.
National School Lunch Program, (NSLP), is “inherently inequitable and socially unjust,” the groups said in a letter to the USDA’s Equity Commission. The Hill reported that the group also included: “black, Native American, Asian and Latino kids are being punished for their race and heritage.”
About 30 million American children are eligible for NSLP lunches at no cost or reduced price. The meals are provided by 100,000 schools in the US. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that nearly half of those children eligible for assistance are white. But activist groups claim that children from other races are more likely to rely on the subsidized meals. The activist groups also argued that children of non-white origin have higher levels of lactose intolerance.
“If Black lives matter, so does our health and nutrition, but the National School Lunch Program has consistently failed children of color,”Milton Mills is a Washington doctor who supports plant-based diets. “Either schoolchildren drink the milk they’re given and suffer in class while they’re trying to learn, or they go without a nutritionally significant portion of their meal.”
The letter was signed by such organizations as the National Action Network Washington Bureau founded by the Reverend Al Sharpton and Progressive Democrats of America. There were also NAACP Maryland chapters, the Progressive Democrats of America and Switch4Good, an anti-dairy organization.
The organizations claimed that the NSLP reimburses schools only if they provide cow’s milk, and a written doctor’s note may be required to allow a non-dairy alternative. “It is patently discriminatory to require a doctor’s note for a nearly ubiquitous condition,”The letter stated.
However, NSLP guidelines clearly state that only a written statement from a student’s parent or guardian is required to serve a non-dairy substitute. Alternatives to cow’s milk, such as soy milk, must meet USDA nutritional guidelines. Schools must also provide water to their students for lunch as part of the NSLP Program.
Nevertheless, the activists argued that the government is forcing children to drink cow’s milk. “It is hard to imagine a more inequitable and socially unjust USDA practice than the force-feeding of milk to children in our schools,”The letter stated.
Schools are required to post NSLP-required information. “And Justice for All” posters. The groups of activists stated that children who are not white will never be allowed to play until these non-white kids become adults. “properly provided for” by the NSLP program, those posters are “empty rhetoric as injustices are visited on millions of underserved children each day.”