Milk wars, wherein making school lunches healthy is a job killer!

For years, school lunch advocates have been pushing schools to ditch the chocolate milk.

Now the dairy industry is fighting back. In a $500,000 to $1 million ad campaign launched Monday, the Milk Processor Education Program and the National Dairy Council insist that without chocolate milk, kids won’t drink milk—and thus won’t get many of the nutrients they need.

chocolate milk

How do you convince parents and children that chocolate milk isn’t bad for them? Apparently you use a range of strategies:  take out ads in publications such as USA Today; sponsor a Christian rock band performance at Beck Academy in Greenville, North Carolina; and develop a website and corresponding social media.

Although it may be run by the same people who launched the memorable celebrity-driven “Got Milk?” campaign, the “Raise Your Hand For Chocolate Milk” campaign is light on celebrities and heavy on nutritionists and moms. In place of sexy chocolate milk mustaches are preachy arguments: “Drinking lowfat or fat free white or flavored milk helps kids get the 3 daily servings of milk recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and provides three of the five “nutrients of concern” that children do not get enough of – calcium, potassium and magnesium as well as vitamin D,” warns one recent ad. Safe to say, the new taglines are a bit more of a mouthful than “Got Milk?”

The ad campaign also has a partner website and Facebook page where parents and children can sign a petition in support of chocolate milk.

The campaign also suggests subcribing to itsTwitter feed. How much breaking news is there about chocolate milk and school lunch programs? There were seven Tweets in the last two days alone:

Many leading health and nutrition organizations recognize the valuable role that flavored milk can play in meeting daily nutrient needs.


Read the science behind the top 5 reasons why YOU shld Raise Your Hand for #chocolatemilk @

And yes, the campaign has several YouTube videos, where celebrities and nutritionists awkwardly raise their hands while cheerfully extolling the benefits of chocolate milk:

In opposition to the claims that the brown stuff has only 60 more calories and 3 tablespoons of sugar, many nutritionists point to Center for Disease Control statistics that one in three children is expected to develop diabetes in their lifetime—or a Chez Panisse Foundation study that showed childhood obesity has tripled in the  last three decades.

At least one local lunch lady isn’t convinced. Boulder Valley School District lunch lady Ann Cooper has been widely quoted in opposition to the campaign:

Kids happily drink white milk — now the only offering at the Boulder Valley School District in Boulder, Colo., said Ann Cooper, the school’s director of nutrition services, who calls herself the “renegade lunch lady” for her efforts to promote more nutrition in school lunches.

She estimates that the extra calories from chocolate milk — as much as 40 or 60 calories on top of a typical 110 calorie 8-ounce serving of white milk — could add up to 5 pounds of weight gain over the 180-day school year. That’s why the district no longer offers chocolate milk.

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