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509-J views chocolate milk debate

Chocolate milk was the topic at last Friday’s meeting of the 509-J Board of Directors, which was rescheduled from Monday due to several board members who are employed in agriculture having to deal with issues from the recent devastating hail storm.

In what Superintendent Rick Molitor termed “the great milk debate,” representatives from the Community Health Improvement Partnership, the school health nurse, and 509-J food service gave their opinions on the issue.

Molitor read the board’s policy which says the district should “encourage students to make nutritious food choices.”

District school nurse Jamie Smith spoke to the board noting, “We should look at the food service area as an educational opportunity … Over 50 percent of our district’s sixth- and ninth-graders are overweight or obese.”

For years, Smith said, he argued that kids need to have flavored milk in order for them to drink it. Then the local CHIP group found there was no research to back that claim up.

So, a three-week pilot project was done at Madras Primary, where chocolate milk was removed from school lunches during April and May 2012, by CHIP, which collaborates on statewide health research projects.

Students’ milk consumption before and after was recorded. “There was no uproar from the kids,” Smith said, adding, “We found white milk consumption did increase.”

He said white milk contains 11 grams of sugar, while chocolate milk has 24 grams of added sugar.

Over the course of a school year, “Our kids consume enough calories for a 1 1/2-pound weight gain from drinking chocolate milk,” Smith said, adding, “I believe children need to be supported in their efforts to make healthy food choices.”

Initially, Smith said the wellness committee wanted to get rid of chocolate milk in schools altogether, but now would support starting with limiting it for grades K-8.

509-J Food Services Supervisor Patti Jobe was not in favor of the idea. She passed around a copy of a letter from First Lady Michelle Obama, stating that she supported serving chocolate milk.

“We serve nonfat chocolate milk that was been reformulated, and don’t serve it at breakfast to kindergarten through fifth-graders,” Jobe said. (The 1 percent fat, chocolate milk in the study had 24 grams of sugar, compared to 22 grams of sugar in the reformulated nonfat milk.)

“My concern is that we would be taking away the nutrient value of milk at mealtime,” she said. “I think the amount of nutrients outweigh the amount of sugar in the milk.”

“The state (nutritional) guidelines are so strict now. I can’t serve desserts anymore, and the (canned) fruit has to be sugar-free. Chocolate milk is the only treat kids get,” Jobe said.

She said Culver School District has reduced the amount of chocolate milk it serves, but other districts in Central Oregon still have it on the menu.

Board Chairman Lyle Rehwinkel said he felt diet alone wouldn’t help the child obesity problem. “They need more exercise. More P.E. classes would make a bigger difference than taking away chocolate milk,” he said.

Erin Tofte, from the Let’s Talk About Diversity Coalition spoke, citing research that has shown “what you eat affects obesity more than your activity level.”

Molitor made a recommendation that the district offer flavored milk on Fridays only for grades K-8 as a treat, but not to change offerings at the high school because those students were more able to make healthy choices.

Board member Stan Sullivan made a motion to table any decision until the Sept. 9 meeting, so the full board could be there. (Only three members were at this meeting).

In other business, the board voted to accept a Next Generation Learning Challenges Grant of $100,000 from “Educause” for planning on the new Warm Springs K-8 school. They also approved a $26,190 grant from the Jon Bowerman Advisory Fund to purchase student track uniforms.

Under personnel, the hiring of teachers Davinie Fiero, Frances Miller, Nathan Anderson, Jessica Noonan and Allen Regnier was approved, and the resignation of middle school teacher Brad Whitcomb was approved. Coaching and advisory contracts were also approved.




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  • 26 Nov 2014

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  • 27 Nov 2014

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