Chocolate Milk In Schools Under Fire In Some Communities

By Luke Phillips
Chocolate milk, a long-time staple in school cafeterias around the country, has come under attack recently with a state-wide ban being considered in Florida and a district-wide ban being considered in Los Angeles, but Holtville cafeteria administrator Isabel Jesse says the sweet treat won’t be leaving Holtville schools any time soon.
Those trying to ban chocolate milk blame the added sugar in the drink for skyrocketing obesity rates in students, but Jesse says the nutrients gained from the milk are worth the extra sugar.
“It would have nutritional consequences,” she said. “Even if we replaced the milk with juice you wouldn’t be getting the nutrients you need from the milk.”
Jesse says the chocolate milk served in Holtville schools is non-fat, but has 25 grams of sugar for each 8 ounce carton. When compared with soda, which has about 35 grams of sugar per each 12 ounce can, chocolate milk has nearly the same amount of added sugar.
Right now students have a choice every day of chocolate milk, white milk and water and Jesse reports that chocolate milk is by far the most popular option.
At Finley elementary, the largest school in the district, Jesse says about 450 cartons of chocolate milk are served every day as opposed to about 45 cartons of white milk.
“We’ve tried only serving white milk and the students just won’t take it,” Jesse said, adding that if chocolate milk were not offered most students would skip the milk altogether, depriving them of essential nutrients like calcium, iron and vitamins C and D.
“It’s also got nine grams of protein,” Jesse said.
Jesse says that to replace the nutrients in one carton of milk it would take 3 or 4 food items.
“To make it up you have to eat all kinds of stuff,” she said.
Jesse says there are currently no plans to remove chocolate milk from Holtville’s schools and she doesn’t think there will be any time soon.
“I don’t think so,” she said. “Unless the district tells me otherwise.”