NORWALK, Conn. — A plan to ban chocolate milk is not sitting well with Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Mike Lyons.
“I think this is typical regulatory overkill from Hartford (typically unthought-out),” Lyons said in an email, specifying that it was “just my personal reaction, not the Board’s.”
The state legislature, on the last night of the legislative session, unanimously passed a bill effectively banning the sale of chocolate milk at schools, according to CTNewsJunkie. State Sen. Bob Duff (D-25) did not return two NancyOnNorwalk emails on the topic this week, but Gov. Dannel Malloy said recently that he does not support banning chocolate milk.
“This specific bill has not yet come to the Governor’s desk and will be reviewed in detail when it arrives,” said Andrew Doba, Director of Communications for Malloy, in a statement. “However, on the broader topic at hand, the Governor is not supportive of banning chocolate milk in public schools. While we must be extremely mindful of the nutritional value of what’s offered to students, ensuring an appropriate array of options helps to ensure that kids receive the calcium and other nutrients they need.”
Norwalk Public Schools Coordinator of School Health Services Grace Vetter MA, RN, NCSN said in an email that 8 ounces of milk (of any type) accounts for 9 grams of calcium, or 30 percent of a student’s daily calcium requirement.
“Whitsons Food Service assures me that they will be notified when and if this becomes a USDA regulation,” she wrote. “Food Service estimates that 75-80 percent of students who take milk at lunch time choose the low-fat chocolate milk over the other options (low-fat or skimmed milk).”
Chocolate milk is not offered at breakfast, she wrote.
NPS Communications Director Brenda Williams had slightly different statistics.
“Lunches at Norwalk Public Schools includes either fat free milk, 1 prcent milk, or fat free chocolate milk,” she wrote in an email. “I don’t have numbers, but our food service folks at Whitson’s estimate that chocolate represents close to 90 percent of the milk sold in Norwalk lunches.”
CTNewsJunkie offers information from a dietician:
Pat Baird, a registered dietitian nutritionist and the president of the Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said that the language means that chocolate milk would be eliminated from school lunches because there is no chocolate milk without sodium.
“This will have a significant impact on school meal participation and ultimately nutrient intake for students,” Baird said. “School chocolate milk has between 60 and 90 mg added sodium, which is only 2 to 4 percent of sodium intake in a day. Removing chocolate milk hardly moves the needle on added sodium intake; but what it does remove is critical nutrients for growth and development.”
“Both the nutritionist you quote and our own head nurse indicate that the nutritional harm coming from this decision will outweigh any benefit,” Lyons wrote. “This reminds me of Twain’s quip that ‘no man’s liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session.’”