What’s “school lunch” if not greasy pizza that you blot with a napkin and a carton of sugary chocolate milk? Starting in the fall, students in San Francisco will be able to tell you: Flavored-milk privileges have been revoked by the district. The ban is effective in August for middle and elementary schools, and next spring for high schools. It’s the latest unhealthy food to fall victim to the years-long Bay Area School Lunch Purge. The area’s schools are some of America’s most restrictive at mealtimes, when sugary items of any sort are basically forbidden. No cookies or other sweets that go into the “dessert” category are allowed anymore, no vending-machine candy, and definitely no soft drinks. Considering how chocolate milk has about 40 percent of a kid’s daily recommended sugar, its days were clearly numbered.
The city’s district isn’t the first to cut out chocolate milk. Los Angeles tried it in 2011, but then reversed course last year after watching kids chuck unopened plain-milk cartons in the trash. School officials found the waste was reduced by 23 percent when the cafeteria stocked flavored milks (strawberry being the other option, unless some diabolical school out there serves — please, no — banana). Additionally, research by Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab shows that eliminating chocolate milk reduces sugar intake … but does so right along with curtailing kids’ milk consumption. Officials in San Francisco counter that they tested their new policy in five schools this past year. Two actually saw no decrease in the milk kids drank, they say, while the other three saw “only a slight dip.”
This isn’t a big surprise, but San Francisco is actually moving in the opposite direction of the federal government on this. One of President Trump’s only substantive food-policy changes so far has been to ease Obama’s school-lunch guidelines. Previously, the nation’s school kids were relegated to skim flavored milks only. Now, thanks to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, they can drink their chocolate-flavored protein in the 1 percent variety.