Schools are banning chocolate milk, sparking nationwide debates

Parents, lawmakers and experts share their opinions on student nutrition
By: | September 25, 2019
The chocolate milk debate has been heated while schools across the U.S. continue to enact flavored milk ban policies.gettyimages.com: Sudowoodo

An Arizona district recently banned chocolate milk while a New York school system may enact its own flavored milk ban in hopes of improving student nutrition. The moves follow other schools that have already stopped serving these beverages, fueling the ongoing chocolate milk debate.

This fall, Tempe Elementary School District in Arizona pulled chocolate milk from its food options as part of a broader initiative to lower added sugars and high-fructose corn syrup, Nutrition Services Supervisor Emma Kitzman told KTAR News.

While Kitzman noted that parents and students from the district’s 22 schools had not voiced any complaints, reactions towards a recently proposed flavored milk ban from the New York City Department of Education have been heated. 

Earlier this month, six New York congress members voiced their concerns to the district in a letter, arguing that the flavored milk ban would negatively affect dairy farmers, as reported by TODAY. The letter also cited some dairy producer-funded studies which say that children who drink flavored milk are more likely to receive their daily recommended vitamin needs than those who don’t. 


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But other experts say fat-free and low-fat milk are nutritionally equivalent to whole-fat milk, according to a recent report in DA. “That milk provides all the nutrients—calcium, vitamins A and D, and potassium—they need,” Colin Schwartz, deputy director of legislative affairs for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told DA. 


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Many schools have already banned flavored milk in Washington, D.C., Rochester, NY, Minnesota, and San Francisco, National Dairy Council Spokesperson Lisa McComb told NBC New York. Meanwhile, schools in Detroit and Los Angeles initially banned then reinstated the drinks. Los Angeles started serving chocolate milk again after experiencing an increase in waste costs immediately following the ban, McComb added. These costs have since lowered. 

“It’s true that there is a lot of waste in schools, but there was likely always a lot of milk waste,” Schwartz told DA. “In many cases, you can actually decrease it by doing various things, such as giving kids more time to eat. It has nothing to do with the standards.”


Interested in the chocolate milk debate? Here are some resources: CDC’s guide to healthy eating in schools