In the United States, the latest culture war is about chocolate milk in the school cafeteria

Parental choice is a dominant theme in this year’s midterm elections, which is why some members of Congress have backed proposed new laws to stop school officials from banning flavored milk.

Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, an ally of former President Donald Trump, introduced a bill that would require all schools participating in the national school lunch program to offer students at least one flavored milk option or risk losing funding federal.

New York Mayor Eric Adams.Credit:PA

“Instead of depriving students of milk choices, my bill will give them greater access to dairy nutrients essential for their development,” Stefanik said in a statement. “Let our New York students drink chocolate milk!”

The lunch program provides low-cost or free lunches to approximately 30 million American children. Stefanik said his legislation, known as the Protecting School Milk Choices Act, would preserve students’ right to have chocolate milk while protecting dairy farmers from future bans in New York City, which is one of the most major dairy states in the country.

Republicans do not have a majority in the House of Representatives, and therefore any bill introduced by party members would require the support of Democrats.

However, a bipartisan group of New York congressional politicians also wrote to Adams, urging the mayor to keep chocolate milk in New York school cafeterias and warning that “for many New York families, meals that children receive in schools are their only source of many recommended nutrients. ”.

New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.

New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.Credit:PA

While the Congressional group argues, alongside the US dairy industry, that low-fat flavored milk increases attendance at school lunches and gives children important nutrients, vegans and health professionals strongly disagree. on the benefits claimed.

“Cow’s milk is already high in natural sugar. In fact, it has 8.5 times more sugar than soymilk. It is therefore completely irresponsible to add sugar to children, given the epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes,” said Josh Cullimore, director of preventive medicine at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which promotes a plant-based food.

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“Dairy products are also the number one source of saturated fat in the American diet, known to cause heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.”

Racial inequality further drives the debate because many more African Americans are lactose intolerant than white children.

Former Olympic cyclist Dotsie Bausch, co-founder of the anti-dairy lobby group Switch4Good, made that argument to members of Congress during a trip to Washington last week when she lobbied for subsidized soy milk. in schools. Currently, students who do not want dairy as part of their lunch must have a note from their doctor or parent.

The chocolate milk debate is just one of the politically heated disputes over parental rights in the run-up to the midterm elections.

The Florida Legislature recently passed a parental rights education bill, which LGBTQ activists have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill because it would limit what certain classrooms can teach about being gay. sexual orientation and gender identity.

And school libraries across the country have been forced to remove books about race and sexuality that some parents and conservative groups find too “objectionable” for students.

If New York City banned chocolate milk, it would follow in the footsteps of Washington and San Francisco. Los Angeles also banned chocolate milk a decade ago, but reversed the policy a few years later amid public backlash.

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