Banning Milk from School Lunches?

Banning Milk from School Lunches?

by Amanda Hawkinson

Nutrition should play an important role in the school lunchroom. After a brief interlude, it seemed like everyone was on the same page about nutrition including milk, vegetables, fruit, and protein. Yet, the bullies are out and the cafeteria is a battleground once more. A group of doctors is actually telling parents that milk is harmful for kids. Milk. Seriously? As in the white stuff that parents force kids to drink by the gallon? Could it really be as harmful as caffeine?

According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) it is. They are demanding that the USDA remove milk from the National School Lunch Program. A non-profit, PCRM, says that the calcium in milk does not help kids’ bones and the fat content is increasing the number of obese kids in our society. Can this really be true? It is doubtful.

This position is presented by a group that strongly encourages a vegan diet (get the vegan diet program book for just $25.99), it’s obvious why they are against milk. PCRM spends a lot of time attempting to convince consumers that any animal product is bad for you.

As a health-conscious person, myself, I still ask my kid to drink his milk.  Maybe it is just my upbringing, or maybe it is because of the calcium that many kids lack in their diets. Let me dispel some of their claims:

1)    Ok, you got me, milk can be fattening. This issue doesn’t bother me, but for those that it does, this is why the National School Lunch Program suggests providing one cup of fat-free or low-fat milk to students at breakfast and lunch.

2)    What about calcium? It supposedly helps kids build strong bones. The calcium is there, and is more easily absorbed when the fat content is lower.

3)    In the case of vitamin D, many kids are vitamin D deficient. Partially due to diet and to the overuse of sunscreen. Where or where could they get this nutrient? Hint: it’s white, most of us drink it cold…

However, PCRM says that if we get rid of milk, then schools would have to make room for other calcium-rich substances like greens.

Why does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t we offer both options? Besides, if kids are already not getting enough calcium (studies show that school aged girls are especially at risk with this), then shouldn’t we want them to have MORE ways to get, instead of less? By providing milk, aren’t we offering them an alternative to the quick-fix energy drinks and caffeinated soft drinks?

Instead of picking on the little guy, milk, why don’t we attack the bigger bullies? How about we start with them allowing pizza to count as a vegetable…