Florida Schools Set to Ban Chocolate Milk & Other Sugary Drinks

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Florida’s Board of Education has decided to move forward with a measure that would make the state the first one of the United States to ban flavored milk in public schools. John Padget, former school superintendent and Board of Education member, has been pressing for such a plan for a long time. Under the plan, the only drinks allowed in elementary and middle schools would be water, low-fat milk and pure fruit juice. High schools would be able to sell low-sugar and reduced calorie drinks, including diet sodas.

In tabling the issue last spring, board members said last spring that they would rather wait to see what the federal government’s next move would be. The board has since collected the opinions of researchers and doctors, and will have a more detailed discussion at their next meeting in mid-December.

Padget says that there are over a million obese or overweight children in America’s public schools, and that “the clock is ticking”. The board decided to move forward in part because they realized that it may take several years for the federal government to revisit its rules on what foods should be allowed at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Board members found out that the Washington DC school district recently made a similar move, when it announced that it was eliminating flavored milk due to its high sugar content.

The Board of Education’s next meeting is open to the public, and those present will hear a variety of information on the subject. A board member, Akshay Desai told officials that he wants to see studies that show a connection between school nutrition changes and children’s overall health. Fellow board member Susan Story said that she would like to see the board limit other foods, such as chips and ice cream.

On the opposing side, Kathleen Shanahan said that eliminating entire food groups from the schools could adversely affect the employment situation in Florida, which is a primarily agricultural state. Shanahan also told the board that school nutritionists and cafeteria managers have opposed the elimination of flavored milk, saying that kids will stop drinking milk altogether because they like chocolate milk more. However, nutritionists and pediatricians generally agree with what parents have been saying all along- if that is all that’s available, the children will drink it.

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