Echo Park & Silver Lake activists want L.A. Unified to lose its appetite for chocolate milk

Echo Park resident Jennie Cooks interviewed by chef Jamie Oliver. Photo by Kim Pesenti

Echo Park resident and caterer Jennie Cooks and Silver Lake resident Rebecca Crane have helped launch a campaign seeking to remove a popular staple from L.A. Unified cafeterias: chocolate-flavored milk. Chocolate milk, and its pink cousin strawberry milk,  contain too much sugar, according to many food and health activists. On Monday, concerned parents and food activists bearing  jugs of milk filled with sugar showed up at a meeting of L.A. Unified food managers.  That meeting was canceled at the last minute but the anti-flavored milk rally, organized with the help of  Cooks and Crane’s Food for Lunch group, continued outside the district headquarters. There, on a grassy traffic median, the food activists were interviewed by British chef and TV host Jamie Oliver, who has been refused access to school cafeterias.

What’s so bad about chocolate milk? One of the activist on hand explained that to the L.A. Times:

“A school carton of chocolate milk has 2 teaspoons of sugar, said Emily Ventura, an organizer of the demonstration. A child who drinks two cartons every school day for a year would consume 14 cups, or nearly a gallon jug full, of sugar, she said.”

A district official told the Times that L.A. Unified’s dairy contract expires in June, adding that “certainly anything is on the table as we go through the budget options.”


  1. Yay! I’m so happy to hear this. It’s amazing that kids can learn at all when they’re being pumped full of sugar instead of nutrition.

    Next thing they can get rid of are those nasty Uncrustable sandwiches they serve, and send on field trips. Really, is it really that hard to make a PB&J sandwich?

  2. That’s too much sugar… but will kids drink unflavored milk? and if not, where will they get their calcium, iron, and other vitamins from if they aren’t drinking milk at school? Flavored milk is a powerful vehicle for all kinds of vitamins that students need.

  3. When I was a kid I didn’t get the choice to drink sugared milk. It was regular milk or nothing. I didn’t realize there was any other option and loved milk. If you tell kids that eating nutritious food is normal, they accept it. Kids are pretty adaptable, we don’t need to bend over backwards to make them happy.

  4. Cutting chocolate milk? C’mon, it was the only thing with flavor on lunch trays back in my school days.

  5. Low fat chocolate milk has recently been touted as a perfect energy recovery drink for athletes. It is a cost effective way for carbo replenishment and it is packed with muscle building protein. It has a pleasant taste and is low in fat and chlorestrol. Active children need this food.

  6. @erik I read the same studies but we can’t apply that research to our kids who are in public schools, especially in our Title I schools. Physical education has been removed from most schools, and recess time is down to about two 10-15 minute sessions a day.

  7. I haven’t read the studies about chocolate milk and exercise, but I know chocolate is supposed to be good for some things…
    However, I’m always concerned with what goes into making something, in this case chocolate milk. There are many people who are concerned about the proliferating use of corn sweetners replacing sugar and the side effects of corn sweetners. Then you have the ‘artificial color’ (always a questionable additive since in the past artificial colors have been identified as presenting health risks.
    Carrageenan (which is derived from a variety of seaweed) is another ingredient that is being examined by scientists about it role both in helping heal muscular damage, but also as having a role in intestinal inflammation and possibly inflammatory bowel disease.
    ..well, anyway, here’s the list of ingredients from one producer:

    Lowfat Milk, Corn Sweeteners, Cocoa, Cocoa Processed with
    Alkali, Starch, Dextrose, Salt, Caramel Color, Carrageenan,
    Vanillin (an artificial flavor), Artificial Color, Vitamin A Palmitate
    and Vitamin D3 Added.

  8. I made my kids lunch from Montessori all the way through middle school ! Every school day 5 x. a week , and NO chocolate milk ! It was hard to get creative sometimes , but I did it .

    What is wrong with teaching your kids about making healthy choices and not “tricking” them into healthy choices .

    If you are really worried about the meals served at school , start making your kids’ lunch .

    At least you know what they are eating !

  9. Wow, this is just ridiculous. You realize that many students don’t tend to eat school lunches because they aren’t particularly good, and chocolate milk is a little harder to come by at schools. I went to a school of 3000 kids on a track system, 5000 total. Trust me, if your kids are gonna eat there, they will, if they won’t, they’ll skip out and bring something equally junky to school. Don’t blame the school district for you bad parenting skills. kids, teens, they like junk food. It’s not like they can’t bring food from home or go to a store before school. Or if they’re allowed to, walk out of school and get food. The food at schools is meant to be cheap, because it has to feed so many people. If you really have an issue with chocolate milk, I think you need to reexamine the fact that cow’s milk is made for calves, not people. And unless the milk is rbst free, you’re still causing harm to your kids. Even then, milk consumption is connected to all sorts of early development in young girls. So really, I think these are nothing but parents looking for something to protest and whine about so they don’t feel like such awful parents. Let the kids have their milk. I guarantee you they’ll get their fix somewhere else.

  10. There is another alternative. Rather than taking chocolate milk from the schools, and thus reducing the amount of milk (and calcium) consumed by children, we can supply them with an alternative. A new product called MOJOMILK (www.mojomilk.com) is a HEALTHY chocolate milk. MojoMilk has 60% fewer calories than other chocolate milk products, and delivers 10x more active probiotics than yogurt, those enhance the immune system and support digestive health! This product comes as a powdered drink mix in stick packs, so children can add it to white milk at school. Yeah!!!

  11. Excellent work food for lunchers! Thanks for fighting the good fight for our LAUSD kids!

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