We are fighting to pass the ADD SOY Act (H.R. 1619/S 2943, the Addressing Digestive Distress in Stomachs of Our Youth Act), which will bring soy milk, a healthy, safe beverage that is recognized by the USDA dietary guidelines as nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk, into schools across the nation. Please SIGN AND SUPPORT the ADD SOY Act below.

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Our dream is to give America’s kids a dairy-free milk option at school that won’t make them sick. But we need your help to get the bill passed!

Our ADD SOY Act (H.R. 1619/S 2943) is an amendment to the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act of 1946, passed when schools were still segregated. In 2023, we believe ALL kids deserve a choice at the lunch counter and should not have cow’s milk forced upon them. We stand for equal justice for all and kids should be offered a healthy alternative to dairy milk.

If this bill passes, it will be the most profound nutrition advancement in the National School Lunch Program since its inception.

YOU can HELP by urging your Congressional representatives to VOTE YES on H.R. 1619 and S 2943.

Click here to send them a pre-form letter.

What is the ADD SOY Act?

H.R. 1619 , our Addressing Digestive Distress in Stomachs of Our Youth (ADD SOY) Act, was first introduced by Reps. Troy Carter, D-La., and Nancy Mace, R-S.C. in March 2023. The Act calls for healthier, dairy-free options to kids in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). More representatives are signing the bill every day–you can see the full list here.

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  • In September 2023, it was also introduced into the Senate by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La), Sen.Roger Wicker (R-MS), Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa), and Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ) as S 2943.
  • ADD SOY requires public schools to offer soy milk to kids in the National School Lunch Program. Crucially, the bill also directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to fully reimburse schools for the cost of the soy milk provided at the same rate as dairy milk.
  • This alleviates the financial burden school districts already face as they struggle to provide healthy, nutritious meals for all students.

How did we get here?

Before the 2020 updates to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), Switch4Good mounted a petition campaign to remove dairy from the Guidelines; to include non-dairy alternatives; and to provide education about lactose intolerance.

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  • We testified twice before the DGA Committee and met 4 times with the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
  • And, guess what, we won! The 2020-2025 US Dietary Guidelines include soy milk as “nutritionally equivalent” to cow’s milk—with this language prominent in the dairy food group.1

1. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Advisory Report to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2020

Why soy milk?

In 2020, soy milk was recognized as nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.1 Switch4Good played an important part in that change through our testimony on Capitol Hill and our relentless grass-roots lobbying.

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  • NO other plant milk was given this nutritional equivalency, and so when we speak of adding soy milk into the school lunch program as an alternative to cow’s milk, we have the endorsement of our government’s very own agency that sets the nutritional guidelines for our nation.
  • In addition, many folks of privilege have the option and the opportunity to drink a variety of different plant milks during a day, week or month, depending on what their desire and/or recipe calls for. But this isn’t the case for over 30 million children in the National School Lunch Program. They need a replacement for cow’s milk that has a balanced macronutrient profile, because the food they receive at school may be the only nutrition they get during a given day.
  • Nut milks will not be allowed in public schools due to nut allergies. That takes almond, cashew, pistachio, and hazelnut milk off the table. Although oat milk is delicious, it is low in protein, so it is not a viable option either. Coconut milk is also low in protein and is over 30% fat, so it is not a healthy alternative for children who need balanced nutrition in their beverage of choice. Hemp milk, pea milk and flaxseed milk are popular and delicious, however their cost of goods is far too expensive, and we do not expect the government to lean into reimbursing for these pricey milk alternatives.

1. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Advisory Report to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2020

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is a medical malady that inhibits the ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in cow’s milk and other dairy products. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates 65% of all humans are lactose intolerant after infancy.

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  • Symptoms include diarrhea, bloating and gas, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, mouth ulcers, urinary symptoms, loss of concentration.2
  • Lactose intolerance affects 36% of Americans and 68% of the global population
  • It especially impacts populations of color:3
    • Black – 60-80%
    • Latinx – 50-70%
    • Asian – 90-95%
    • Native American – 80-90%
  • Learn more about the symptoms of lactose intolerance and how it affects the body here.

2. Definition & Facts for Lactose Intolerance | NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/lactose-intolerance/definition-facts. Accessed June 28, 2023.

3. Malik TF, Panuganti KK. Lactose Intolerance. Lactose Intolerance. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532285/. Accessed June 28, 2023.

What is the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)?

The NSLP was established in 1946 to provide low-cost or free school lunch meals to qualified students through subsidies to schools. The NSLP is a laudable program that delivers valuable nutritional support to needy kids, but its dairy milk mandate is a fatal flaw.

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  • The NSLP served 29.6 million children in 2019.4
    • Statistically, up to 17 million of those children are lactose intolerant
    • BIPOC populations are overrepresented compared to national racial distributions and disproportionately affected by lactose intolerance
    • The program served 4.9 billion lunches that cost $18.7 billion
  • In 2019, an official USDA report showed that 29% of milk cartons were thrown away, unopened, totaling $300 million in unnecessary waste.5 Waste levels are certainly far higher given that this figure only applies to unopened cartons. Many kids may sip the milk and throw the bulk of the product away.
  • Federal policy requires a “milk note” from a parent or physician explaining the child’s negative reaction in order to be exempt from taking cow’s milk. This unfairly burdens already disadvantaged families with limited access to outside health care. And the reality is, most people, including kids, don’t understand that they may have lactose intolerance, meaning that they are not motivated to seek a healthier alternative.
  • Children are misled by government and industry messaging promoting dairy for their health. This messaging from “authorities” in the NSLP, the industry, and their key messengers (e.g., celebrities and athletes) cements the notion that milk “does a body good” and is “nature’s perfect food” – when it is anything but for these kids. This unsound nutritional advice causes them to pursue a consumption pattern at odds with their best interest.

4. USDA’s National School Lunch Program served about 224 billion meals from 1971 through 2021. USDA Economic Research Service. http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/chart-gallery/gallery/chart-detail/?chartId=104891. Updated 2022. Accessed Jun 28, 2023

5. Fox MK, Gearan E. School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study. 2019

Why should you care?

The dairy industry has a de facto monopoly on nutritious fluid beverage offerings in the National School Lunch Program and is making millions of lactose intolerant kids sick—especially children of color. We think that is fundamentally unfair and unjust. We believe our nation’s kids deserve better.

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  • Offering kids soy milk eliminates adverse health effects and learning barriers, and still provides support to an enormous sector of agriculture (soybean producers).
  • Lactose intolerance symptoms make it difficult to focus in the classroom, potentially hindering learning and widening the “achievement gap” between white and BIPOC students.
  • Nearly a third of kids in the NSLP throw cow’s milk away unopened, and that’s undermining the core purpose of this nutrition assistance program, along with contributing to food waste and greenhouse gas emissions.5

5. Fox MK, Gearan E. School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study. 2019

How can you help?

Please take 60 seconds to send your Senators and Congressperson a message to support the ADD SOY Act with the powerful, pre-written letter we’ve created for you. Just enter your name and address, and the form does the rest!

Not in the US or want to show additional support? A financial donation helps us keep up our passionate fight.

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