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Chocolate milk off the menu at San Francisco schools

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bdfeb375-c83f-4865-9a9a-15c369ab5fa0-110509_chocolate_milk.jpg

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco school kids who learned to live without soda and candy will soon have to give up chocolate milk too.

The city's school district will ban chocolate milk in elementary and middle schools this fall and in high schools in the spring, the San Francisco Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/2tBHNil) Monday.

The school district already bans sodas in schools and doesn't allow cookies or other sweets to be served with lunch.

One carton of chocolate milk includes about 40 percent of the recommended daily allowance of sugar in a child's diet, supporters point out.

Officials in San Francisco tested the ban in five schools over the past school year and found that in two, there was no decrease in the number of milk cartons kids consumed. There was only a slight dip in the other three schools.

"The kids grumbled about it for a couple of days," said Libby Albert, executive director of the district's Student Nutrition Services. But for the most part, they just switched to white milk, she said.

Most elementary and middle school students attending the summer session at George Washington High School interviewed during a recent school lunch said they didn't care whether chocolate milk was offered or not. Sebastian Ong, 8, said chocolate milk is "yummy and delicious," and the absence of it at school would be "a bummer, but whatever."

But banning chocolate milk might not be the best choice for every school, said Marlene Schwartz, director of the University of Connecticut Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

There are students who strongly prefer flavored milk and who might have nutritional deficiencies, Schwartz said. It might make more sense to offer chocolate milk to such children ensure they get the calcium, vitamin D and potassium they need, she said.

"You kind of have to know your student body," Schwartz said. "Districts have to make an informed decision."

In 2011, the Los Angeles Unified district banned chocolate milk, citing the same argument against extra sugar as San Francisco. But the largest district in California has reversed course after a pilot study found offering chocolate milk again would increase milk consumption and reduce waste. It put chocolate milk back in all the district's schools this spring.

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