Sugary Milk Campaign

6:04 AM

When I started this blog, nutrition and eating wholesome foods has always been a given, but has never has been my focus for choosing what to write about or where to dine. You probably won't see me blog about deep-fried oreos or review a meal at a national fast-food chain. You also won't find a post about the latest food pyramid (now a plate??) and reading nutrition labels - I'll leave that to the experts like Joy Bauer or Oprah's Dr. Katz. But if you watch this video and you have kids, it's hard to ignore the fact that kids are just getting too much sugar these days.

So when a fellow parent in my son's kindergarten class asked if anyone was interested in tapping into Jamie Oliver's campaign to eliminate sugary flavored milk from our schools, I said "me!" If you aren't familiar with Jamie Oliver's latest campaign:

"It's not just soda that's full of sugar. Kids are getting it from the chocolate and strawberry milk they drink at school too. Flavored milk also has other ingredients you won't find in the plain stuff - colors, flavors, artificial sweeteners - which don't make it more nutritious.
Add your name to support this campaign asking schools to choose plain milk, and make the sweetened varieties an occasional treat." - Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution website
Lead by fellow parent Amy Vachon, a handful of parents and I wanted to go beyond signing an online petition and get our schools to consider eliminating flavored milk - or at the very least encourage kids to choose the white stuff.

Cut to Thursday, June 9th, 2011: Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution's National Flavored Milk Day of Action - the first-ever coordinated, grassroots action on this issue. Over 300 individuals from all over the country organized student activities, demonstrations, and conversations with school officials to urge their communities to eliminate flavored milk.

The event was well-organized and gained momentum as the days progressed. The Food Revolution team equipped groups with a 12-page "playbook," fact sheets, templates, calculators, and a Facebook page as a way for groups to connect with each other. They held "office hours" and live chats on the days leading up to the 9th. If only more businesses and organizations were this well-organized!

So what happened at our school? Check it:

Handed out free white milk and wristbands to every student, funded by Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates

Cafeteria was decorated with student-created "milk art"

Created and distributed flyers with milk facts to students

And it worked! Kids were choosing white milk!

Kids wore the wristbands proudly

I realize we have a long way to go in changing policy and eating habits. In fact, we were met with some resistance by several parents who felt "it was their God given right to have freedom of choice."Another argument we heard was if we eliminated flavored milk, then how will kids learn to make healthy choices?

Food services and the Dairy Council fear that by eliminating flavored milk, milk sales would plummet. Maybe. But I was inspired by what I saw that day and don't feel this is totally true. For example, one student asked if she could get chocolate milk for free and we had to explain to her we were only paying for white milk. She explained she didn't like the taste of white milk and was ready to walk away empty handed. Then turned around and grabbed a white milk.

I'd like to think we made a positive impression. Not only with the kids, but the cafeteria staff and school leaders. Change can happen if we're all in it together. 

How do you feel about flavored milk? Should schools eliminate chocolate milk from their menu?

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