Santa Monica-Malibu school district considers chocolate milk ban
Like many school districts around the country, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is considering a ban on flavored milk in its schools. On Wednesday evening, the district’s Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the issue after hearing from scores of people on both sides.
The debate over eliminating chocolate milk centers on whether the benefits of calcium outweigh concerns about the sugary drinks at a time of rampant childhood obesity. Some say students won’t drink milk at all if the flavored versions aren’t available.
Many districts have decided to eliminate flavored milk, including the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest, which took action in June. And considering Santa Monica’s reputation as an activist outpost, where schools already have salad bars with vegetables delivered fresh from a farmers market, the debate has additional significance.
District nutrition officials have recommended that the board continue to serve nonfat chocolate milk on the theory that more students will drink the flavored milk than plain white milk.
However, a group of parents and community members calling themselves Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds has been pushing to eliminate not only the flavored milk but also processed foods they view as unhealthy.
“Santa Monica claims to be such a sustainable, forward-looking place,” said Christine Goddard, a mother of two elementary school students in the district. “You’d think it would be the same for the school district.”
Photo: Jaila Brooks drinks chocolate milk during lunch at Marina del Rey Middle School. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times