WILKES-BARRE — U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey last week introduced the Milk in Lunches for Kids (MILK) Act to allow schools to serve whole milk and 2% milk.
The MILK Act also requires the Secretary of Agriculture to revise regulations to exclude milk fat from the cap on saturated fat in school lunches. Currently, schools may only serve fat free or 1% milk with lunches.
“Every parent knows milk does a body good,” Toomey said. “In 2010, the Obama Administration and Congress erred in prohibiting whole milk and 2% from being served in schools. This decision has led to a sharp decline in consumption across the country, which means kids are not getting essential nutrients milk provides. This measure fixes that error and permits schools to sell whole and two percent milk once again.”
Toomey’s MILK Act is being co-sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and has earned the support of the following organizations:
• Pennsylvania Farm Bureau
• Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association
• Pennsylvania Association of Milk Dealers
• International Dairy Foods Association
• Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert — “Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is pleased to support Senator Toomey’s MILK Act that provides increased flexibility to include two-percent and whole milk in school meal programs.”
• Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association Executive Director David Smith — “The Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association strongly believes school children once again should have the option to choose whole milk in schools. Recent and emerging dietary research has shown that whole milk nutrition is essential for the healthy development of our growing children. The Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association applauds the leadership of Senator Toomey to provide school children with the nutrition and great satisfaction of delicious whole milk.”
• International Dairy Foods Association and President Michael Dykes — “Giving our kids the opportunity to drink a glass of nutritious milk with breakfast and lunch each day is one of the best things we can do for their health and development. Our IDFA members are grateful to Senator Toomey for introducing this bill to allow schools more flexibility to offer the same types of milk that children and teens enjoy at home. Providing expanded milk options helps ensure students get the nine essential nutrients that milk uniquely provides, including powerful protein, calcium, vitamin D and potassium.”
• Somerset County Dairy Farmer Glenn Stoltzfus — “Dairy producers across the state are very concerned that we are losing an entire generation of milk drinkers and the nutrition milk provides to growing children due to the less appealing skim and low-fat milk currently being served. Sen. Toomey’s proposal goes a long way in addressing this concern.”
• In 2010, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act which amended nutrition standards in the School Lunch Program.
• Among the changes, the law mandated that all milk available in schools must be fat free.
• Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a rule that allowed schools to receive waivers to make one percent milk available to students.
Rep. Kaufer’s jobs legislation
approved by House committee
In an effort to encourage manufacturing companies to invest here in the Commonwealth, specifically northeast Pennsylvania, Rep. Aaron Kaufer last week announced that his Energy and Fertilizer Manufacturing Tax Credit legislation, House Bill 1100, was passed by a vote of 14-6 by the House Finance Committee.
House Bill 1100 mirrors the existing Pennsylvania Resource Manufacturing tax credit that led to the Shell Cracker Plant investment in western Pennsylvania and will focus on large manufacturers using Pennsylvania methane in the production of ammonia, urea and methanol as well as encourage other manufacturers to invest in Pennsylvania.
“This legislation would provide our region with ample investment, workforce and economic growth opportunities,” said Kaufer, R-Kingston. “We are talking about over a billion-dollar investment and over a thousand permanent jobs along with thousands of construction jobs. This is truly a once in a generation investment and will be a game-changer for the economy in northeast Pennsylvania.
Kaufer added that this is the beginning of the legislative process and that he is looking forward to working in a bipartisan fashion to get this legislation across the finish line.
For more information about this legislation, or any other state-related issue, contact Kaufer’s district office in Luzerne, located at 161 Main St., by calling 570-283-1001. Information can also be found online at RepKaufer.com or Facebook.com/RepKaufer.
State report: Eating disorders
among youth are increasing
Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine last week joined members of the Legislature and eating disorder advocates to raise awareness about the prevalence of eating disorders and emphasize the need for resources useful to recovery.
“Eating disorders are serious health conditions that can affect individuals of any gender, age, race, ethnicity or lifestyle,” Dr. Levine said. “The prevalence of eating disorders has continued to increase and is one of the top five most common illnesses among American teens. It is essential that everyone, especially parents, know the signs and symptoms of eating disorders so we can help connect those who are suffering with the support they need.”
The warning signs of eating disorders, which are physical, emotional and behavioral in nature, can vary depending on the disorder. Generally, behaviors and attitudes that are fixated on weight loss, dieting or control of food are warning signs.
Stereotypes usually link eating disorders to young women; however, about one in three people struggling with an eating disorder is a man; eating disorder behaviors are nearly as common among men as they are among women. Nearly all eating disorders have serious health implications.
“Eating disorders can affect every organ system in the body, including the cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system, neurological system and endocrine system, and can be deadly,” Levine said. “One person dies every 62 minutes as a direct result of an eating disorder, which is why it is so important that those struggling with an eating disorder get professional help. The earlier a person with an eating disorder seeks treatment, the greater the chances of recovery.”
Getting diagnosed is the first step towards recovering from an eating disorder and involves a combination of psychological and nutritional counseling, in addition to medical and psychiatric monitoring. Treatment can be delivered in many different settings, depending on the patient.
Anyone looking for support, information, referrals and guidance about eating disorders, either for themselves or a loved one, can contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.
For more information on eating disorders, and other health issues, visit the Department of Health website at www.health.pa.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
AG applauds committee passage
of package of pharmacy bills
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale this week applauded the House Health Committee’s approval of legislation that will advance his efforts to make the business practices of pharmacy benefit managers more transparent. DePasquale called for such action in his special reports on PBMs.
Pharmacy benefit managers — which act as middlemen between drug manufacturers and pharmacists — have come under pressure nationally for raking in huge profits while shrouding their business practices from oversight.
“It’s past time for Pennsylvania to increase oversight of PBMs so that we can ensure taxpayers are not paying for unnecessary services,” DePasquale said. “As my special reports noted, PBM services provided to Medicaid enrollees cost Pennsylvania taxpayers billions of dollars a year.”
The bills approved by the committee would provide for additional oversight of PBMs and how they set drug reimbursement rates.
Other bills with bipartisan sponsorship approved by the committee would allow the Auditor General to audit PBMs annually and prohibit “gag clauses” that stop pharmacists from telling customers how they might save money on their prescriptions.
Last November, DePasquale released a special report on Bringing Transparency & Accountability to Drug Pricing. He followed up in February with a special report on how rebates drive up prescription drug cost for consumers.