Parents of young students in the Bay Area may want to buy some extra tissues, because there’s probably about to be a lot of tears spilled over a new public school milk policy. According to Grub Street, chocolate milk is getting the axe in San Francisco public schools, because the school board decided it’s just too sugary to serve to kids in good conscience. Chocolate milk will be banned starting in August for elementary and middle schools, and next spring in high schools as a part of a 15-year-long initiative to remove sugary, high fat foods from schools in the Bay Area.
In 2002, the Oakland School District banned vending machine junk food, sodas, and other sugary beverages. SF Gate reported at the time that the ban was considered revolutionary, particularly because it was a complete and total ban—other school districts around the country were getting rid of junk food, but some still allowed students to purchase sugary snacks and drinks after class hours.
In more recent years, at least one other California school district has banned chocolate milk from cafeterias. In 2011, the Los Angeles Unified School District did away with chocolate milk, but the decision was reversed after students simply threw away full cartons of regular milk, producing an inordinate amount of waste. Grub Street reports that LA schools saw a 23 percent reduction in waste after bringing chocolate milk back. But evidently this is a risk San Francisco schools are prepared to take in the battle against sugar.
Marlene Schwartz, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut tells the San Francisco Chronicle that in schools where kids might be vitamin deficient and are inclined to drink flavored milk over plain, chocolate milk is better than none at all, but at some schools, students are just as happy drinking the plain stuff. In either case, she says it’s about having the proper understanding of an individual school’s or district’s students.