Posted on August 10, 2022

Civil Rights Groups, Including Al Sharpton-Led Organization, Urge USDA to Fix ‘Dietary Racism’ in School Lunch Programs

Brad Dress, The Hill, August 9, 2022

Twenty-eight civil rights and health care groups announced Tuesday they have requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) address “dietary racism” in national school lunch programs, raising concerns to the federal agency about forcing millions of minority children to drink cow’s milk without allowing them a healthier alternative.


The USDA reimburses schools covered under the 76-year-old NSLP if they provide fluid milk during meals, which does not cover soy milk or other types of organic milk. Dairy milk must be served with every meal.

The federal agency does allow a nutritional substitute, but that requires a written statement from a student’s parent or guardian and schools must notify the state of a substitution. {snip}

“It is patently discriminatory to require a doctor’s note for a nearly ubiquitous condition,” they wrote in the letter. “Black, Native American, Asian and Latino kids are being punished for their race and heritage.”

According to the civil rights and health groups, 80 percent of Black and Latino people, more than 90 percent of Asians, and more than 80 percent of Indigenous Americans are lactose intolerant, compared to 15 percent of White people.

“It is hard to imagine a more inequitable and socially unjust USDA practice than the force feeding of milk to [minority] children in our schools,” the letter reads.