Chocolate Milk Faces Potential Ban in Washington School Cafeterias

Tova Shafran

Concerned about the amount of added sugars children are consuming, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering a ban on all types of flavored milk including strawberry, chocolate, and other varieties in elementary and middle schools.

This issue has child-nutrition specialists, parents, school meal officials, and other school advocates divided. The supporters of this ban say flavored milk has added sugars that contribute to childhood obesity and establish children’s preference for overly sweet drinks. Those against the ban including, the dairy industry and many school districts, say removing flavored milks from schools will lead to children drinking less milk in general.  Milk is a reliable source of vitamin D and calcium.

Katie Wilson, the executive director of the Urban School Food Alliance, says that taking a product away that kids enjoy, which also has nine essential nutrients in it, just to say, ‘You can’t drink this, you have to drink plain” doesn’t make sense. But others worry children already have too much sugar in their diets, which is contributing to rising levels of child obesity. Flavored skim milk was the top source of added sugars at school breakfasts and lunches, according to a 2021 study.

“From a public-health perspective, it makes a lot of sense to try to limit the servings of these flavored milks because they do have quite a lot of added sugar,” said Erica Lauren Kenney, a public-health and nutrition professor at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.