LA schools drop flavored milk

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It’s been rumored for weeks that the Los Angeles Unified School District would remove flavored milk from its menus. Now it’s official.

On Tuesday, the LA school board approved a five-year, $100 million dairy contract that excludes chocolate and strawberry milk, reports The Los Angeles Times. The contract does include low-fat and non-fat plain milk.

LA is now the largest school district in the nation to stop serving flavored milk, ostensibly to combat child obesity. Other school districts that have decided to drop flavored milk in at least some meals include Washington, D.C., Boulder Valley, Colo., Berkeley, Calif., and Minneapolis, Minn.

Dairy-industry groups expressed disappointment over the Los Angeles decision.   

“It is unfortunate that the Los Angeles Unified School District has removed nutrient-rich flavored milk from its menu. The district’s decision conflicts with the nation’s leading health and nutrition organizations, who agree that a small amount of added sugar can be used to increase the palatability of nutrient-dense foods such as low-fat and fat-free chocolate milk,” according to a statement released by Dairy Management Inc., the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation. 

“The dairy industry is proud to offer great-tasting, kid-approved flavored milk that is lower in fat, contains less added sugar and has fewer calories than ever before. In fact, the majority of milk in schools today already is low-fat or fat-free, and three-quarters of flavored milk in schools is at or below 150 calories,” the dairy statement said.  

We believe there are far better and more responsible ways to trim calories and added sugars from school meals than removing nutrient-rich chocolate milk from school menus. And, as an industry, we look forward to continuing to work with the Los Angeles Unified School District to ensure kids are getting the benefits associated with drinking milk, regardless of flavor,” the dairy statement added. 

Deana Hildebrand, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist, said flavored milk offers the same unique nutrient package of nine essential nutrients as unflavored or white milk.

“Flavored milk accounts for about two-thirds of all milk sold in schools,” Hildebrand said. “Milk, whether it be flavored, unflavored, whole, reduced-fat, low fat or fat-free, provides three of the four nutrients in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines,” including calcium, potassium and vitamin D, she adds.

“Overall, fat-free flavored milk is a highly palatable, nourishing beverage that can help children meet current dairy food and calcium intake recommendations,” she said. “The acceptability and availability of nutrient-rich flavored milk in schools is critical. At home, if you choose to offer your child flavored milk, consider purchasing a fat-free or reduced fat variety. It will provide the needed nutrients with fewer calories and saturated fats than whole milk, and less sugar than contained in other sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda or sports drinks.”


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kathy Walter    
wisconsin  |  June, 15, 2011 at 11:08 AM

OMG really, since when did drinking flavored milk make you fat? Wouldn't they leave the flavored milk in schools to get kids to drink milk. I remember getting regular 2% milk at school and it was nasty, at least the chocolate milk covered up the taste of the white milk. I have an awesome idea for these schools before you cute flavored milk, try getting rid of the candy and soda and most of the food that you pass off as nutritious.

Mountain View  |  June, 15, 2011 at 11:12 AM

It is obvious that the Dairy Industry would think it unfortunate. This whole article talks about the benefits of flavored milk - which, they say, is the same as regular milk. However, this "news report" fails to talk about the added, unnecessary sugar in flavored milk. These empty calories are what is producing obese children, which are producing a rate of diabetes that is astonomical. I wish the artilce was less one-sided.

pa  |  June, 15, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Liza, milk does have nutritional value which certainly cannot be said for the soft drinks these children will now be reaching for. Children need calcium to grow strong bones and so many of these kids rely on school meals as their primary source of a good meal for the day. I also hope you realize that lack of exercise is also a major contributor to the diabetes issues for both children and adults but getting rid of chocolate milk is soooooo much easier for the powers-to-be than dealing gang and drug issues that make it impossible for the children of Los Angeles to go out and simply play!

Tim Dawson    
England  |  June, 15, 2011 at 02:11 PM

FANTASTIC news, the unnecessary sugar in flavored milk is inappropriate. Looks like the LA schools are on the right track.

Ohio  |  June, 15, 2011 at 02:13 PM

I do not think it is the flavored milk is harming our kids. Having worked in the school system for the past 6 years I see exactly what a "school lunch" is. It is full of processed unhealthy foods. Everything is just heat and eat. Nothing is homemade anymore. I think the schools need to look at the unhealthy food they are serving. Milk is the healthiest part of lunch. I feel schools should have a nutritionist evaluate the whole lunch before making any decisions on getting rid of lowfat flavored milk. And let's face it, it all boils down to cost. The schools are always looking to cut cost. Easy heat and serve foods equal less cost, not better nutrition. As the saying goes, "Milk it does a body good." I also agree that school should get rid of the "extras" also know as chips, candy, little debbie cakes, ice cream, etc... before they get rid of flavored milk. Get real people!

Colorado  |  June, 15, 2011 at 05:18 PM

At least this is a start toward feeding our kids, our future better food. Yes, the whole lunch program needs to be revamped to make it healthier. I applaud LA and the other school districts for taking this step.

Jackie Schmidts    
Lake Placid, NY  |  June, 17, 2011 at 01:30 PM

The land of fruits and nuts are at it again, trying to control every part of our lives. Now the California Food Nazis are at it. Elimination of 5 cartons of chocolate milk a week for each school kid is not going to make them any less obese. In fact reducing milk in kid's diets will lead to deficient essential vitamin A and D while we’ll see an increase in long forgotten diseases such as rickets. When will the insanity end?

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