Nothing sends me back to my childhood faster than those little cartons of chocolate milk that everyone coveted at lunch. But those lunches we enjoyed back in the day have undergone many changes in an effort to provide kids with more nutritious fuel for their day.
Now, San Francisco schools have turned heads by jumping on a growing national trend to nix flavored milk and only offer plain white milk at lunch after testing it out in five schools during the 2016-2017 academic year, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
"Just like many people, I have some nostalgia around drinking chocolate milk at lunch as a kid," San Francisco school board member Matt Haney told The Chronicle. "But if this change helps reduce overall sugar intake and improves student nutrition and wellness, it seems like a positive thing to me."
The district will ban chocolate milk from all of their elementary and middle schools in the fall of 2017 and will do the same for their high schools in the spring of 2018. The change from chocolate milk to regular reportedly eliminates between 35 and 40 calories and 10 grams of sugar from students' diets.
"The kids grumbled about it for a couple of days," recalled Libby Albert, executive director of the district's Student Nutrition Services.
There's a catch: According to a Cornell Food and Brand Lab study, without chocolate milk, students waste 29 percent more milk, take 10 percent less and might even stop eating school meals altogether.
While testing the removal from the San Francisco district, officials found that two out of the five schools showed no difference in milk consumption, while the other three showed a very slight dip.
"You kind of have to know your student body," Marlene Schwartz, director of the University of Connecticut Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, told The Chronicle. "Districts have to make an informed decision."
She recommended approaching flavored milk as a "sweet treat" but cautioned that restricting it could mean that some kids don't get the calcium, vitamin D and potassium that they need.