Summit Schools switch out chocolate milk
summit daily news
The issue of chocolate milk in schools remains a hot topic in the media, and in schools, all over the country.
While nationally some districts are experimenting with nixing the beverage all-together, locally, the Summit School District is reshaping its offerings a bit – moving from a 1 percent chocolate milk to a skim chocolate milk.
While the calorie and fat content of the skim is lower, the sugar content stayed the same. Per cup, the new milk contains 130 calories, zero grams of fat, no saturated fat and 22 grams of sugar. The old, one-percent chocolate milk offering had 150 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat and 22 grams of sugar.
The new milk will be rolled out across all Summit County schools in the next week or so, but started being served this week in the middle school. Principal Joel Rivera took a trip Tuesday to the school’s cafeteria to test it out and reported it tastes just like the old one.
The one-percent chocolate milk will continue to be offered, alongside the skim version, until the old product sells out.
The company that produces the chocolate milk, TruMoo, recently launched a campaign to promote its chocolate offerings, touting the fact that its products are free of high fructose corn syrup, a change that actually happened within the brand at some point last school year. Summit’s chocolate milk was switched out for a regular sugar variety around the same time, but no big fuss was made.
Shelly Searles, a nutritionist who runs a program called Apple a Day Nutrition in Summit County, said while it’s great the high fructose corn syrup is gone from the product – since studies show it adds to the obesity issue – she is all for Jamie Oliver’s approach: getting flavored milks out of schools completely. White milk is better than chocolate, she said.
“I like that there are steps being taken,” Summit County parent Daniel Lewis said. “I still think that there should be just regular milk, soy milk or water.” Lewis’ daughter drinks skim and soy milk.
So why not remove the chocolate entirely? Because studies have shown some children will stop drinking milk altogether if the chocolate option is gone, Lyza Brackett, district manager for Chartwells said. Chartwells – a division of a nationally run food service management company, which is then a division of a global parent company – designs the food program for the district.
A recent article in The New York Times cites a 2009 study by Milk Processor Education Program, a milk industry group that operates the “Got Milk” campaign. The article says flavored milks were removed from 58 elementary and secondary schools around the country. Milk consumption among students declined 35 percent, and daily consumption per student fell to four ounces; In schools that kept serving flavored milks, consumption per student was six ounces.
“I think that we need to look at all of our offerings and decide if chocolate milk is appropriate or not,” Summit County Board of Education member Brad Piehl stated in an email. “I am not a nutritionist. I would need to hear that getting those kids to drink milk, without it being chocolate milk, is worth the added sugar of whatever kind. It might be that the nutrition from chocolate milk could be replaced by other healthy foods or drinks.”
Piehl’s overall feeling is that schools need to work towards healthier lunches, but acknowledges it’s a challenge to serve healthy foods every day to numerous children. Two changes with the chocolate milk in a year is a small step and indicates that someone understands the problem.
“We really need to look at our school lunches and see if we can do better,” he said. “Our community expects the schools to serve healthy food and healthy kids learn better.”
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