Monday, November 21, 2011

The Great Chocolate Milk In School Debate

I posted a twitter link to a story about the ban of chocolate milk in schools that aired on NPR this morning. From that, people asked my stance on the issue and here I will spell it out.

I am in favor of small steps to attack problems. My community has a massive issue with poverty stricken kids and the most popular meal at the cafeterias is Monday breakfast. It is often the first meal that the kids have had since Friday lunch. So in the interest of just getting them fed I have little problem with chocolate milk. This is a community that when we have food drives at the school they recommend that the food is in pop top cans so the kids can feed themselves on the weekend. That is possibly the saddest sentence I will ever write.

I am in favor of reduction in sugar levels in chocolate milk and a slow weening off of sugar-laced proteins. I am in favor of getting all corporate pressure off of the menu in schools. I think soft drinks have no place in the system. I also have a problem with juice, which is just sugar in another form. I am in favor of having kids drink more water and eat more vegetables. I am in favor, a huge proponent, of changing the diets of the families in need by matching food stamp funds at farmers markets through programs such as Wholesome Wave's Snap initiative. I am in favor of challenging kids to grow food to show them that it doesn't have to come in a pre-packaged form. I am in favor of slowly changing the diets of children in our community so that families make better use of their money when it comes to whats on their dinner plate.

But first and foremost, right at this moment, I am in favor of getting that kid something they want to eat so they don't pass out in first period. I am in favor of balancing that chocolate milk with a good meal of yogurt, fruit, granola and toast. Balance is a key word here. As we teach about better food things will change. For a start we should mandate a altering of the chocolate milk recipe to be lower in sugar, like the NPR piece talks about.

Progress can be made through small steps but completely banning chocolate milk right now is a step further on down the line. It's not progress, rather its a reaction that doesn't really address the issues. The issues are overall diets and true poverty in our communities.

Oh and I am a huge fan of Tony Geraci. He's making huge differences by changing things with a smile. He rocks.
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