April 29, 2010

Who’s up for Banning Flavored Milk in Schools?

Ann Cooper & Jamie Oliver vs. the Chocolate & Strawberry Milk Industry

Click image below for video with Ann Cooper:

Jamie Oliver:

Excerpt via The Atlantic, re: flavored milke and Jamie Oliver’s new hit reality show about bringing real food to schools in Huntington, Virginia:

…ask why responsible adults would place children directly in harm’s way in the cafeteria when great care is habitually taken elsewhere on school grounds to avoid danger. Do coaches give kids the choice between playing in the gymnasium and playing in traffic? Do principals put beer kegs next to the water fountains in the school hallways? Do teachers allow teens in English class to read porn magazines in lieu of the classics?

…Oliver is outraged that the school district’s food service director, Rhonda McCoy, has chosen to continue serving flavored milk. Oliver fervently argues that flavored milk “has more sugar in it than soda.” Yet McCoy, supported by the school principal and haplessly citing “The Office of Child Nutrition,” claims that because she is required to serve “a variety of milks,” she needs special dispensation to stop serving flavored milk.

…McCoy appears to lack a full understanding of the rules she is required to follow in operating her food service department. To be sure, the regulations governing school meals are extremely convoluted and often incomprehensible. Nevertheless, it is clear that “a variety of milks” can include any two of skim, 1-percent, 2-percent, and whole, unflavored milk, and that no special permission is required to stop serving flavored milk.

Generally speaking, there are 22 to 24 grams of sugar in a typical eight-ounce serving of flavored milk—10 to 12 more grams of added sugars than in a comparable serving of unflavored milk (of equal fat content). There are four grams of sugar per teaspoon, and approximately 115 teaspoons of sugar per pound. Thus, a child who drinks flavored milk every day for lunch consumes 1800 to 2160 more grams of sugar per 180-day school year than a child who drinks an equal amount of unflavored milk. That’s 3.9 to 4.7 pounds of added sugars. And, of course, children who drink flavored milk for both breakfast and lunch consume twice that amount.

During a presentation about school food reform that I once gave to an audience of about 200 people, several parents were alarmed that their children’s “right to chicken nuggets and chocolate milk” could be taken away. My explanation—that the food service department was focused on the long-term best interests of their children—was falling flat, when a 30-something father stood up and shouted, “I want healthy food in the schools and I want my kid to have two choices: take it or leave it.” Or, as Oliver puts it, “We should give children what they should get. They’ll get used to it.”

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