Flavored Milk Only Part of Student Health Picture

This editorial represents the views of the young people in The kNOw.

[dropcap]On July 1,[/dropcap] the Los Angeles Unified School District stopped serving flavored milk. It’s the largest school district in the nation to do this, and now, Fresno Unified School District is deciding whether or not to do the same.

Some people think not having flavored milk is a good idea because it will allow us students to get nutrients without taking in corn syrup and other calories. Two percent milk has 90 calories plus 12 grams of sugar. Strawberry and chocolate milk have almost as much sugar as one can of soda, but also have nine nutrients that soda does not.

We at The kNOw see health benefits in removing flavored milk from school. Anything to bring healthy habits into our lives is a good thing. We also worry that if these choices are taken away, our peers will choose even less healthy drinks.

When we go to school, we see what students prefer in school meals. Many of us and our peers enjoy something sweet now and then. For most people plain milk in school does not taste good and this will lead them to find other ways to feed their sweet tooth. Flavored milk is better for us than soda or other sugary snacks because it has good nutrients. We think if flavored milk is removed, kids who are used to strawberry or chocolate milk may choose not to drink nonfat milk and will lose that nutrition.

[pullquote_right]If filtered, good-tasting water is easy for us to get, we will choose it over other less healthy drink options.”[/pullquote_right]

Whatever FUSD decides, we agree that our schools should make pure, cold, filtered water the main drink at school. If filtered, good-tasting water is easy for us to get, we will choose it over other less healthy drink options.

It’s great that FUSD is concerned about our nutrition, but a good diet really depends on our own choices. Food options are only half of the picture when it comes to our health. We believe our school district should look at the whole picture of our health, giving us not only a good diet (which includes pure, filtered cold water and other healthy choices), but options for an active life. Whether flavored milk stays or is taken away, FUSD should promote all other ways to keep us healthy while in school.

To find out what people prefer with their school lunch, we decided to poll our friends on Facebook. Within 24 hours, we heard back from a total of 72 people. It did not surprise us that over 60% said they prefer cold-filtered water, while 25% prefer flavored milk, leaving 15% to prefer nonfat plain milk.

Here’s the bottom line: FUSD should do a better job providing us with the tools we need to make healthy decisions. When the healthiest option is the most available option, we can build habits that will help us stay nourished throughout our lives.

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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