School board's chocolate milk decision questioned
"We want kids to learn how to make healthy decisions so they make healthy decisions as adults," Holly Erdmann said during a Jan. 9 Committee of the Whole meeting of the School Board.
Erdmann, a special education teacher in the district, and Kara Schroeder, a registered nurse and mother of three children in the school district, attended the meeting and questioned the board's Dec. 12 decision that made chocolate skim milk available during breakfast and lunch.
On Jan. 3, chocolate skim milk became a daily option at breakfast and lunch for all of the district's students.
Both Schroeder and Erdmann are members of a school district committee that deals with nutrition and wellness issues.
"I don't see it as in the best interest of children. Those of us involved in the decision were never called upon to present information as to why the decision had been made," Schroeder said.
She was referring to the previous decision to not offer chocolate milk as a daily option for elementary and middle school students.
Before the board's Dec. 12 vote, the milk options at the high school were white skim, white 1 percent and chocolate skim milk every day for breakfast and lunch.
At the elementary and middle school levels, white skim and white 1 percent had been available every day for breakfast and lunch, with chocolate skim available only for lunch on Fridays.
White skim and white 1 percent are available for the morning and afternoon milk breaks in the elementary schools, and that has not changed.
Schroeder said she watched the DVD of the board's Dec. 12 meeting and was concerned about how quickly a motion was made to change the daily milk options for students.
The topic was initially brought up during the board's Nov. 28 meeting when the question was raised as to why chocolate milk was not offered as a daily choice for all students.
Schroeder said chocolate milk has at least three teaspoons of added sugar in it and that children gravitate toward things that taste sweet.
Board member Tony Beyer said he agrees that too much sugar is not good for children but then asked how much exercise do children get at school.
Matt Wilbert, principal of the middle and high schools, said in ninth, tenth and eleventh grades, students have physical education daily for one semester. It is not a required class for seniors.
Erdmann said that since 2005, the committee has worked to make the district healthier. Parents, teachers and community leaders are members of it.
Offering chocolate milk only on Fridays to elementary and middle school students gave them something to look forward to, she said.
Schroeder said new school guidelines from the USDA recommend that a single serving of milk be 130 calories or less. The chocolate skim milk offered in the district does meet that guideline.
Board President Neal Loehrke said, "I think it's a parent's choice. If you prefer your children not to have chocolate milk, teach them."
Erdmann said that for the last three years, elementary and middle school students were fine without it as a daily option.
Loehrke said, "My girls were not getting enough calcium. My daughter's doctor says my daughter should drink chocolate milk to get calcium if she won't drink it anywhere else."
Erdmann said children can also get calcium by eating yogurt and cheese.
Schroeder said she wishes the board's decision had been based more on science than on personal preference.
Loehrke said, "It had been talked about a couple months. I thought the people passionate about it knew."
Beyer said, "Throughout your life, you have to teach them how to make right choices," he said. "We're just trying to be reasonable."
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