Hands Off My Chocolate Milk!

If you listened to Monday night’s KaibCast, you’d know what I think about elementary schools forcing kids to eat school-provided lunches.  According to the busybody administrators, the kids bring unhealthy lunches to school.  In the name of health, kids are forced to eat whatever crappy food their schools provide.  One such school is Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side.

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

“Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” Carmona said. “It’s about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception.”

Why is this such a bad thing? Because forcing kids to eat something they don’t like is the job of parents, not principals.

And today, the Washington Post reports that schools are also banning chocolate milk!

It was once a staple of public school cafeterias that blended the indulgent and the nutritious, satisfying parents and children both. But chocolate milk is uncontroversial no more. Dozens of districts have demanded reformulations. Others have banned it outright.

At the center of these battles are complex public health calculations: Is it better to remove sugary chocolate flavorings at the risk that many students will skip milk altogether, missing out on crucial calcium and Vitamin D? Or should schools instead make tweaks — less fat, different sweeteners, fewer calories — that might salvage the benefits while while minimizing the downside?

However schools answer these questions, protest inevitably follows. When Fairfax County and D.C. schools banned chocolate milk last year from elementary lunch lines, officials heard not just from parents and students. They also received letters and petitions from a slew of nutritionists and influential special interest groups.

Most accused the districts of acting rashly, robbing students of a tasty drink and the vitamins and minerals that fuel bone and muscle growth.

What’s the harm in drinking chocolate milk?  Idiots claim that the high fructose corn syrup used most often to sweeten chocolate milk is worse than other types of sweeteners, but there is no evidence to support that claim.  Now some schools that banned the drink are reintroducing it.

This month — and partly because of that pressure — Fairfax officials announced that they would reintroduce chocolate milk in school cafeterias. The newer, low-fat version includes sucrose, which is made from sugar cane or beets, instead of high-fructose corn syrup, which some critics say is more heavily processed and, as a result, less healthy.

Fine.  Make the chocolate milk healthier, just don’t take it away entirely.  For some reason, school administrators think they know better than parents.  Even if some parents are idiots, school food policies just enable those parents to be less engaged in their kids’ lives, and the good parents are barred from making decisions about how to raise their children.  What if a mother wants to feed her child healthier food than what the school cafeteria provides? Isn’t it reasonable to believe that the school food is heavily processed, and that food from home could actually be healthier?

School administrators are never going to learn.  The chocolate milk scandal isn’t their first try at being food police:

Jostled by the new politics of school lunch, Fairfax officials have vacillated over other staples. This year, for example, they removed salt from pretzels, but weeks later they were coaxed into putting it back.

Remove salt from pretzels? What’s next,  removing chocolate chips from chocolate chip cookies?

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