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Los Angeles Bans Flavored Milk in Public Schools

Los Angeles Bans Flavored Milk in Public Schools

Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second largest school district, has banned flavored milk from its school menus. In a 5-2 vote on Tuesday, the LA Board of Education approved a five-year, $100-million dairy contract that excludes chocolate and strawberry milk, the Los Angeles Times reports. LAUSD serves approximately 650,000 meals a day at 1,000 sites.

The decision was applauded by chef Jamie Oliver, whose show Food Revolution has recently drawn attention to the poor nutrition of LAUSD school lunches and breakfasts. Sugar has been a specific target of Oliver’s war against unhealthy food. In one episode of Food Revolution, Oliver filled a school bus with sand to represent the average sugar content of LAUSD’s menu.

Speaking to the LA Times, Oliver said Tuesday’s decision was “a giant step forward for the health and future of 680,000 kids in Los Angeles, and leads the way for more school districts around the country to follow.”

In 2004, LAUSD banned sodas, but according to the Times, one cup of strawberry-flavored milk contains as much sugar as a cup of Coke (26 grams). The chocolate milk available to students has 20 grams of sugar.

Research suggests that sugar is a leading contributer to obesity and type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, especially in children. The American Heart Association recommends children ages 4-8 restrict their sugar consumption to 130 calories (3 teaspoons) or less each day. As kids age and increase their overall calorie intake, the maximum should not exceed 8 teaspoons.

Emily Ventura, of USC’s Childhood Obesity Research Center, told the LA Times that a school breakfast of sugary cereal, coffee cake, juice and chocolate milk would contain 204 calories of added sugar — and remember, that’s just breakfast.

But some officials are concerned that Los Angeles students won’t drink milk once these flavored, sweetened options are unavailable. 60% of milk consumption in LAUSD is chocolate or strawberry. To receive federal reimbursements for school meal programs, district students must take three of the four items offered for breakfast, and four of the five items at lunch. Will kids ditch the lunch line altogether if they can’t get their favorite drink?

No, say experts, as long as the district introduces new menu items and explains to students why chocolate and strawberry milk have been axed. New options such as spinach tortellini in butternut squash sauce, California sushi rolls and a variety of vegetarian and ethnic foods are being proposed for the fall.

Matthew Sharp, senior advocate with the California Food Policy Advocates and a proponent of school food reform, is optimistic about the changes to LAUSD. “[B]y the fall the district will be a national leader,” he told the LA Times.

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Photo credit: Jeff McNeill (Creative Commons Share Alike)

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172 comments

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7:05AM PDT on Apr 2, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

10:53AM PST on Feb 3, 2013

Good. I would like it if they introduced alternatives to cow's milk such as almond and soya milk. These options are not only healthier but no animal is forced to produce it either!!!!

8:28PM PDT on Sep 25, 2011

Hopefully this will become a trend in schools. Good goin', Los Angeles!

3:51AM PDT on Sep 13, 2011

good

6:33PM PDT on Aug 28, 2011

Good for Los Angeles :)

12:28AM PDT on Aug 24, 2011

Good decision Los Angeles Unified! Thanks Jamie Oliver!

12:37AM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

Jamie Oliver is an incredible leader but its astounding how much resistance he encountered, he was only trying to provide the best for kids, what a strange topsy turvy world! Glad his hard work and suffering for this now translates to some change for the better.

7:25AM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

Three cheers for a baby step in the right direction. Pasteurized milk is linked to diabetes and other health problems, but it is probably a long way before kids get real and safe milk, if ever. (The pasteurization laws came about due to people raising cows for milk in crowded, unhealthy city situations...the cows could not graze normally on grass, sometimes they were fed chalk and other non-food substances, and processing conditions were dreadful...and of course milk-borne diseases exploded under these circumstances). Real milk contains healthy enzymes and much more bioavailable proteins than the pasteurized version. Some people "get over" their milk "allergy" by drinking raw milk. Or goat milk.

As for meat....we need baby steps.

As for cheap chips...they are made with rancid, deodorized polyunsaturated fat that create free radicals during the cooking process, and even more as they sit on shelves in warehouses, waiting to be served to unsuspecting children. If we must have chips, they should be fried/baked using more stable oils that are heart healthy NON-hydrogenated stable oils like coconut, pal, macadamia.....

1:28PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

I like that they are making milk healthy, but I'm seriously concerned about meat. I remember sitting in the nurses office and the lunch lady was talking to the nurse about the school using "real meat" that year. I was seriously concerned about what I had previously been eating. I understand that for cultural and religious reasons, some people can't eat meat, but let's face it: It just sucks for them. 5% of kids get a hard time, 95% get to eat real meat. Is that so bad?

11:14PM PDT on Jun 26, 2011

This is great! Milk shouldn't come with extra sugar and artificial flavors!

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