Chocolate milk is alive and well in Plainfield schools.
While some school districts around the country are expelling the popular, sugar-laden dairy delight as a bad guy in the battle against childhood obesity, chocolate milk remains the choice of nearly 85 percent of Plainfield school students of all ages, officials say.
That’s higher than the national figure, which shows that a little more than 70 percent of the milk poured in school cafeterias is flavored, according to the Milk Processor Education Program.
“Students across all grade levels choose chocolate over white milk,” reports Eloise Sopka, who works with Sodexo, Plainfield School District 202’s contracted food provider.
Several school districts, including those in Washington, D.C., and Fairfax County, Va., took chocolate milk off the menu last year. It was a move that sparked both passionate support or opposition from parents, students and nutrition experts.
Because it has more calories than soda, chocolate milk should be an occasional treat, not a diet staple that kids drink with every meal, nutritionists and school officials say. Some schools are offering lower fat and sugar versions of chocolate milk, with limited approval by young consumers.
The pro-milk faction, including the National Daily Council, says chocolate milk helps kids get the calcium they need to build bones and stay healthy. It has set up a “Raise Your Hand for Chocolate Milk” Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/MayfieldDairyFarms?sk=app_4949752878) to fight back.
The chocolate milk served at Plainfield schools is 1 percent, with 160 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and 25 grams of sugar, Sopkas said. The white milk Plainfield students can get with lunch is 2 percent, with 120 calories, 5 grams of fat and 11 grams of sugar.
How do we weigh in on chocolate milk and its role in childhood obesity? Do you want your kids to have chocolate milk with their lunch or would you rather it was off the table? If adding chocolate gets kids to drink milk where they might not otherwise, does that justify a decision to serve it. Is chocolate milk a rare treat or a daily diet staple?