School Assignment Inspires 4th-Graders To Protest Over Chocolate Milk

Over the years, the lessons learned in the classroom are more than the three Rs that parents might recall. Recently, a group of fourth graders at Sierra Vista K-8 School in Vacaville, California put persuasion, protest and persistence in the lesson plan. As shared by People, an English assignment turned into a movement for the students to quench their thirst for chocolate milk. After reading a Scholastic News article on the removal of flavored milk from school menus, the students took a closer look at their school's stance and took action to make a change. No matter which chocolate milk brand you prefer, the kids' actions are exciting.

With help from their teacher, the students rallied to turn a discussion about persuasive writing, arguments, and counterpoints into a protest that resulted in a menu change. The Mercury News reported that the students and administration were able to find a compromise where the beverage would return to the menu "one day a week every other week." Although this sip of change might not seem like the quest to end world hunger, the lesson offered the students tools to address situations where they want change. It might be one small sip at lunchtime, but it could create a drive to apply classroom knowledge beyond those four walls.

Why is chocolate milk a hotly debated school lunch topic?

The fourth graders' protest of the lack of chocolate milk on the school menu raised a bigger question beyond the desire for students to have their voices heard. In a recent Newsweek article, school officials touted that chocolate milk's sugar content was their reason for taking it off the menu, while students argued that the lack of choice can lead to less milk consumption and more food waste. This debate over chocolate milk in school lunches is not new nor limited to one school in California. Chocolate milk has gone on and off school lunch menus for years as opinions on the worst foods to add to kids' school lunches shift. 

Education Week covered this debate as schools try to find the balance between nutritious meals and food that kids want to consume. As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a 2019 tweet, "Nutritious school meals don't do anyone any good if kids just throw them into the trash." He also stated that it was important to "[empower] local schools by providing more options to serve healthy AND appetizing food." For now, more students might be seeing a change where the lunch lady's little slice of love is served with a carton of chocolate milk.