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Monday, May 2, 2011

Pass Me the {Chocolate} Milk!

School lunch programs all over the nation are undergoing unnecessary makeovers. First, there was Meatless Monday in Michigan and now several school districts have, or are considering, removing milk from school lunches. This decision is based on the fact that flavored milk, such as chocolate, contains 3-4 tbsp of sugar more than regular white milk. However, by pulling milk from school lunches, children are left no other choice to drink water, juice or soft drinks.  Did you know that chocolate milk is much healthier than several other lunchtime beverages?

Many children choose not to drink milk if chocolate milk isn't an option (I know this was true for me as I usually drank two chocolate milks at lunch). Not receiving the calcium, Vitamin D and protein that milk provides is far more detrimental to children's health than the 3 tbsp of sugar in chocolate milk.  I feel as if administrators looking to eradicate milk from school lunches are missing the forest for the trees.

A study presented at the School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference reveals that eliminating chocolate and other flavored milks from school cafeteria menus resulted in a dramatic drop in milk consumption along with a substantial reduction in nutrients—which are not easy or affordable to replace. The study included nearly 700 measurement days over three months at 58 elementary and secondary schools across the country. When flavored milk was not available, many children chose not to drink milk and missed out on the essential nutrients that milk provides. On days when only white milk was offered in cafeterias, milk consumption dropped an average of 35 percent.

The study results indicate to replace the nutrients lost from the decline in milk consumption:
  • Required three to four different food items to match milk's nutrient contribution.
  • Added back more calories and fat than were being reduced.
  • Added back roughly half the sugar, netting a savings of only 15-28 grams per week.
  • Cost an incremental $2,200 to $4,600 more annually per 100 students.
So, instead of trying to remove healthy choices from school menus, administrators should focus on educating children on the health benefits of meat and dairy products and a balanced diet. Remember:  For the greatest amount of nutrition, at the most reasonable cost, chocolate milk is the choice with the most muscle.

For more information on chocolate milk in school lunch programs check out the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and to learn more about the study visit http://www.milkdelivers.org/schools/flavored-milk/

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Image: http://www.wmmb.com/wdc/ChocolateMilkHasMuscle.aspx

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