Impact of Banning Chocolate Milk from School Cafeterias

In the hopes of promoting less sugar and better nutritional intake, chocolate milk was banned from elementary schools and was replaced with skim milk. This move, however, proved to have nutritional and economical downsides.

Andrew Hanks, David Just, and Brian Wansink of Cornell Food and Brand Lab have recently conducted a biomedical science research on the effects of banning chocolate milk from school cafeterias. Data collected from 11 elementary schools from Oregon suggested that there was a deduction of milk sales by 10%. Furthermore, as Dr. Hanks stated, about 29% increase in wasted milk was observed. This study was published in PLOS ONE.

The study also concluded that the association of banning chocolate milk to the decrease in District’s Lunch Program participation by 7% cannot be ruled out. Although the students have had less sugar and caloric consumption when the chocolate milk was banned, they also subsequently lacked intake of protein and calcium.

Although the nutritional benefits may be evident, this biochemical science research has determined that banning chocolate proves to be a policy which has precipitated economic and nutritional cost. In this case, reconsideration for a less restrictive action is warranted. Brian Wansink, co-author and Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab explains that there are several other ways to encourage students to take white milk instead of the flavored ones, without banning the latter completely. He suggested finding a way to make white milk the easier and the normal choice. Wansink also mentioned that increasing the visibility of white milk in display as compared with flavored milk may help increase the former’s consumption.

Former Assistance Director of Nutrition Services at Eugene School District Nicole Zammit was not at all moved by this news. She said that “- the role of the federal school meal program is to provide nutritious meals to students who may otherwise have no access to healthy foods.” In line with this, Zammit pointed out that unless a plan is made in the production of an effective alternative solution to nutritional deficiency of students, banning flavored milk is not recommended.

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