March 13, 2022 by Carl Campanile
Let them drink chocolate milk!
That’s the message upstate New York Rep. Elise Stefanik is sending to health-conscious Mayor Eric Adams in his quest to ban the beloved drink from schools.
The Republican from Plattsburgh has introduced federal legislation that would require all schools to offer chocolate milk after hearing that theBig Apple mayor — who follows a plant-based diet — wants to ban the dairy product from city cafeterias because of what he deems unhealthy sugar content.
Stefanik’s “Protecting School Milk Choices Act of 2022 says schools “shall offer students flavored and unflavored milk” and also “may” offer students lactose-free milk.
“Mayor Adams fails to understand that delicious, flavored milk is how many of our kids access the essential nutrients in dairy for their development and that taking options away from children is not the answer,” said Stefanik, who represents dairy farmers in the North County.
“Let our New York students drink chocolate milk!”
A recent survey commissioned by the International Dairy Foods Association found that 90 percent of New York City voters with kids in public school support including low-fat flavored milk in public school meals. Nationally, 85 percent of parents feel the same.
Other New York lawmakers have also soured on Adams’ campaign.
Last week, nine members of New York’s House delegation sent Adams a letter urging him not to ban chocolate milk in schools — including Democrats Grace Meng, of Queens, Antonio Delgado, who represents parts of the Hudson Valley, and Sean Patrick Maloney, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Republicans, including Stefanik, Reps. Lee Zeldin, Claudia Tenney, Chris Jacobs, Tom Reed and John Katko, also joined the push.
Chocolate milk supporters have cause for concern about Adams turning into the new health nanny — akin to former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who sought to ban the sale of large sugary drinks, succeeded in outlawing trans fats in restaurants and nixed smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places.
Adams, the former Brooklyn borough president who switched to a mostly vegan diet after being diagnosed with diabetes and has already ordered up plant-based meals once in a week in schools, posted a “Do the Math” video in 2019 in support of a proposal for the city Department of Education to scrap chocolate milk because of its sugary content.
In the video presentation, the then-Brooklyn borough president showed how much sugar was in a large glass of chocolate milk. The video said one cup of the sweet beverage contains three to four teaspoons of added sugar.
“Chocolate milk is loaded with extra sugar and causes type 2 diabetes and obesity and other health issues,” Adams said recently.
“Yet we continue to serve it. Instead of serving our children drinks that set them up for a lifetime of health problems, we should be giving them better options, such as water.”
But supporters said two-thirds of milk served in school is flavored and argued that chocolate milk offers nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D and potassium and outweighs acceptable levels of sugar intake.
The lawmakers also said eliminating chocolate milk will just lead to more milk waste because fewer kids will drink regular milk.
Adams’ office had no comment on the Stefanik legislation blocking a ban on school milk.
An Adams spokesperson last week said it was reviewing the letter from the congressional delegation and said “we will make a determination of what is best for our students.”
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