Bold Schools, Bright Future: The Flavored Milk Trend

Bold Schools, Bright Future: The Flavored Milk Trend

Thu 03 Nov 2011

Story by Seth Nickinson

In large part fueled by the energy of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, flavored milk is a hot topic in 2011. National newspapers have covered the issue, a vibrant pro / con discussion has emerged and of course, there was a major announcement from Los Angeles that was implemented this fall.

What is the Status of the Change?

We’ve kept track and stayed in touch with school districts that eliminated or are in the process of eliminating flavored milk. They are districts big and small, located in all parts of the country. Some of them made the change nearly overnight, and others have eased into the process over years. Food Revolutionaries have been fighting for this change. Get the scoop below!

Our Bold Leaders

There are now 35 districts serving only 100% pure white milk. This encompasses more than 1,300 individual schools in their food services! Of those leading districts, 10 recently caught the wave and have made the switch away from flavored milk for the 2011-2012 school year.

Why do it? As one of these leading food service directors explains:

“If a child is not going to drink milk because it isn't chocolate flavored, we are only enabling that child to continue being a victim of the addictive nature of processed sugar. To that end, our Department remains committed to changing the culture of food from one of processed to that which is whole and without additives.”

To see a handout we provided for LAUSD food services staff at their back-to-school training, click here.

Making Strides

We know of 9 more districts (covering 288 schools) that are serving flavored milk just one day a week. This represents a powerful stance of its own, and puts flavored milk in its rightful position in the lives of kids: flavored milk is a treat, not an everyday item!

There are 6 other school districts serving flavored milk only at breakfast or have only pure milk at elementary and middle schools, but where high school students can still choose chocolate milk. They add 316 more schools to our total.

What happened in one district that recently removed flavored milk from elementary?

“In 2009-2010 students consumed 417,680 flavored and 101,637 white cartons of milk. In 2010-2011 they consumed 570,418 cartons - an 8 % increase overall once flavored milk was eliminated.”

This K-8 school district has since removed the flavored milk from middle schools as well.

In several large school districts – New York City Department of Education, Atlanta Public Schools, and San Diego Unified, for instance – a small selection of public schools have eliminated flavored milk, through the efforts of parent and administration advocates.

On the Cusp

There are 7 districts, and it's growing every month, who have taken baby steps away from flavored milk, or are explicitly testing it this year. Some examples:

Eugene School District 4J in Oregon is running a 2-month pilot in K-5 of removing flavored milk.
Palos Verdes Peninsula USD in California is conducting a 4-month trial of serving flavored milk only one day a week. Show support, families in Palos Verdes!
Parents in Santa Monica-Malibu(CA) lost their bid to have flavored milk removed from schools, but families can now opt-out
Fresno Unified (CA) is the home of heavy advocacy by a co-ordinated group of community members focused on preventing obesity in their community

Grand Total?

57 school districts, representing more than 2000 individual schools, have fully or partially removed flavored milk in their schools. Amazing.

To see a map of all the districts, click here.

What Can You Do?

There is definitely a trend here, and it is growing because of motivated school food service directors, interested school administration, and active parents and community members

1. If you are in a district or school that we may not know about, please email us at

2. If you are a food service director who wants to share your story, or ask for support, please do the same!

3. If you are a community member ready to lead the charge on flavored milk, join our Facebook group and participate in our National Milk Week of Action November 7-11

You can also visit our Flavored Milk HQ here

About the author: Seth Nickinson is the California based Field Director for the Food Revolution.


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