Back in 2011, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver devoted an entire season of his television show, “Food Revolution,” to take aim at the school food served in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). And one of his primary concerns was the fact that LAUSD – like most school districts in the country – served sugar-sweetened flavored milk to its kids.
To make his case against flavored milk, Oliver engaged in some eye-catching (though perhaps slightly misleading) stunts, like filling a school bus to near-bursting with white sand to demonstrate the amount of sugar offered to LASUD students each week in flavored milk. He also circulated an online petition to get flavored milk out of American schools entirely.
For a variety of reasons, LAUSD’s public image took a real hit on the “Food Revolution” show that year (in ways I thought were sometimes unfair). So, in an obvious effort to undo some of the reputational damage, LAUSD’s school board eventually voted on and approved a district-wide ban on flavored milk.
But now, five years later, the Los Angeles Times reports that sugar-sweetened milk is back on the menu in LAUSD, at least at some schools. In a 6 to 1 vote taken earlier this week, the LAUSD board approved a pilot program to “study the effects of reintroducing flavored milk in a small group of schools, all of which must volunteer to take part in the experiment.”
The motivation behind this decision? A reduction in food waste. According to the Los Angeles Times:
It is not that board members believe children aren’t consuming enough sugar. Rather, the decision to re-examine milk offerings stemmed from concern that the district is throwing out an obscene amount of food — 600 tons of organic waste each day, according to a 2015 district study.
Much of what’s being taken to the landfill is the plain milk that schools are encouraged by federal law to offer, but that students aren’t enthusiastically drinking.