Chocolate Milk Is On The Chopping Block For School Cafeterias

Chocolate milk (and strawberry milk for that matter) may soon be on the chopping block. The United States Department of Agriculture is currently pondering putting an end to chocolate milk sales in school cafeterias nationwide. One proposed change would limit all flavored milk to just ninth grade and above. This is part of several proposed changes by the organization to school lunches. Since implementing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, which added more nutrition to schools, childhood obesity appears to be on the decline. Still, this chocolate milk ban may be tough for some to swallow. 

The reason for the proposed ban is, of course, because flavored milk contains added sugar. In fact, chocolate milk can contain almost as much sugar as a Coke. According to the USDA, flavored milk account for around half of added sugar in school lunches.  The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that approximately 17% of the average child's daily diet consists of sugar, with about half of this sugar supplied by the beverages they drink. 

Some school districts, including Boston Public Schools and Vacaville, California, have already stopped selling chocolate milk. The latter drew heated student opposition in the form of a fourth-grade protest march. To date, though, such bans have been strictly local ones. Once the USDA gets involved, any ban enacted would be a nationwide one.

It's possible, though, that the USDA will permit reduced-sugar chocolate milk

As with all proposals, the USDA has invited the public to debate the issue, via public submissions. The topic of the chocolate milk ban drew some heated responses. For instance, one person believes the milk ban will lead to fewer school children drinking milk: "When flavored milk is not available, kids drink less milk and miss out on the nutrients that milk provides." Meanwhile, another wrote, "Limiting milk to unflavored will cause further obesity in school-age children since parents will pack students a drink from home...."

It's important to note that the chocolate milk ban is only one of two proposals. The second proposal would just limit the amount of sugar in chocolate and other flavored milk. The government would set a limit on just how much sugar is permitted in any given serving. The alternative has already drawn support from several milk processors. In total, 37 milk processors (which produce 90% of milk for schools in America) agreed to follow new sugar limitations set by the USDA. Currently, the USDA hasn't decided which option it will ultimately implement. As for now, chocolate milk remains in many school cafeterias.