Connecticut Moves Closer to Chocolate Milk Ban in Schools

Image: Connecticut Moves Closer to Chocolate Milk Ban in Schools

Friday, 16 May 2014 06:54 AM

By Jason Devaney

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Connecticut legislators voted to keep chocolate milk out of public school lunchrooms across the state on Thursday over sodium levels.

The proposal will next go to Gov. Dannel Malloy for approval.

Critics of the proposal argue that it will actually hurt kids' diets because they will not get the nutritional benefits of milk.

"What concerns me is that if chocolate milk is not one of the available options, then I believe students will decrease consumption of milk overall," Lonnie Burt, the chief nutritionist of Hartford Public Schools, told NBC Connecticut.

The move comes in the wake of the government's nutritional guidelines for school lunches, which limits calories, fats, sugars, sodium, and other aspects of diets. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 also requires that all lunches contain a half-cup of fruits or vegetables in addition to the main course.

Children have used Twitter to vent their anger about the program. Some say the portion sizes are too small, while others claim the food does not taste good.

The move to ban chocolate milk would cause some kids, according to experts, not to drink milk at all with lunch. This would rob them of bone-building calcium and other nutrients.

According to the results of a study performed by Cornell University researchers, getting rid of chocolate milk at 11 schools in Oregon led to lower milk sales and more waste.

"Eliminating chocolate milk from the elementary schools decreased total milk sales by 10 percent, indicating that many students substituted white for chocolate milk," the study reads. "Even though more students were taking white milk, they wasted 29 percent more than before. Nutritionally, after the milk substitution, students on average consumed less sugar and fewer calories, but also consumed less protein and calcium."

The new school lunch program, spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama, has forced public schools across the nation to adapt. This summer, schools that participate in the federal program will have to get rid of junk food — potato chips and other snack foods, along with sodas — from vending machines and cafeterias, or risk being fined and losing funding for the program. The mandate will also ban bake sale fundraisers from schools.

The new guidelines limit beverage sizes to 8 ounces in elementary schools for anything other than water, and 12 ounces in middle schools. High schools are allowed to offer caffeinated and low-calorie carbonated drinks but those are limited to 20 ounces or less.

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