Chocolate milk may soon be missing from the cafeterias of a North Carolina school district if the superintendent gets his way.
In the northwest part of North Carolina, the ancestrial home of The Andy Griffith Show, it makes you wonder what Aunt Bea would say.
While childhood obesity may not have been a big issue in fictional Mayberry, it is today for school districts in North Carolina and across the country. According to the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal, it was statistics on chocolate milk’s sugar content and childhood obesity that convinced Don Martin, superintendent of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system, to consider removing chocolate milk from his district’s menus.
Chocolate milk currently accounts for more than 75 percent of the district’s milk sales.
While Martin has yet to make a formal recommendation, several board members have stated that they were likely to support the change. The school board often implements Martin's suggestions without much delay.
The possible ban would come just as the district, as well as others around the country, prepare to implement a new federal nutrition standard passed by Congress late last year. The standards require more grains and vegetables at lunch, massive cuts in sodium and less meat with breakfast. Pizza would continue to count as a vegetable, thanks to two tablespoons of tomato paste.
According to the new federal guidelines, chocolate milk would be required to be fat-free, starting in the 2012-2013 school year. Unflavored milk, the only flavor milk that would be served in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system if chocolate milk is banned, can have up to 1 percent fat.
A similar ban backfired on school officials in West Virginia after the school took chocolate milk out of the cafeteria, according to a CNN report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Following the ban, milk consumption at the district dropped by 38 percent in the elementary and middle schools; it dropped by 75 percent at the high schools. Instead of drinking unflavored milk, students turned to sugary juice and sodas.
“About half the students in the county live around the poverty level. For many, school lunch and breakfast are the main meals of the day,” Gupta said. “Without milk, local doctors said, kids weren't getting enough vitamin D, vitamin A, calcium, or potassium.”
Three months after being banned, the school returned chocolate milk to the cafeteria.
“For kids and parents, milk with sugar is better than none at all,” Gupta said.
Aunt Bea probably would have said the same thing.
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Sound Off: Do you believe that chocolate milk should be served in schools?