MoCo eliminates the scourge of strawberry milk

Donna St. George reports in The Washington Post that the Montgomery County Public Schools have decided to address a serious hindrance to the education of students in that county: strawberry milk.
In a move that seems to defy logic, the county has decided to take away strawberry milk:
 Come January, school cafeterias in Montgomery County will be missing the pinkest offering of the lunch line. Strawberry-flavored milk is on its way out. St. George reports:

"The drink is not as popular as chocolate milk and not as nutritious as plain milk, officials say. So at a time of growing concern about healthy foods for children, the pink milk has lost its place on refrigerated shelves in Maryland’s largest school system."

Now while that's all well and good, what was the reasoning that was given for taking strawberry milk off of the shelves?

"It's the right thing to do," said Marla R. Caplon, Montgomery's director of food and nutrition services, who thought long and hard about the value of flavored milk and concluded amid parents' concerns that she could no longer make the case for strawberry. "Milk is not naturally pink. There are artificial colors and there are preservatives in the milk, and in wanting to do the best for the kids, strawberry really isn't necessary."

Milk isn't naturally pink? You don't say....

You might be surprised to learn this, but milk isn't naturally brown either, nor does it contain chocolate. But chocolate milk is unaffected by the decision to eliminate strawberry milk, though there are also artificial colors and preservatives in chocolate milk just as there are in strawberry milk. But chocolate milk accounts for 67 percent of milk sales in Montgomery County schools and, according to Caplon, "We know that if flavored milk is eliminated, then fewer students will consume milk, and that is a concern." So instead of banning all flavored milk, only some flavored milk will be banned, which is one of the more contradictory policies you will ever see.


A lot of the to-do over strawberry milk in Montgomery County is actually tied up with an interest group, Real Food for Kids - Montgomery, who seem to have a set of priorities less interested in educating students in Montgomery County schools than in restricting the foods that are offered in Montgomery County schools so they fit nicely with the agenda put forth by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a left-leaning group that seeks to restrict your freedom to purchase and consume the food that you want to eat (a subject Red Maryland has tackled over the years). Real Food for Kids supporters are focused on the tough questions, like wondering if students can be forced to eat vegetables before allowed to buy other foods.

While it is admirable that students should be afforded the opportunity to purchase decent food during the school day, it seems that this group could be better served by trying to improve the quality of education students receive at school than the quality of food available for sale at the school. Let's face it, it is of greater importance to the future of each and individual student to receive a quality education than it is to be protected from the evils of strawberry milk. The Real Food for Kids folks should be less concerned about using the school system to push their nutritional values on all students in the K-12 system, and instead provide them with better instruction and educational opportunities.

But instead, I'm willing to bet this outfit will go after chocolate milk instead.

I don't really have a dog in this fight. I don't drink milk very often myself (though don't worry, I get my dairy) and think that strawberry milk is repulsive. But if some believe that fighting over the nutritional content of what is served in school is the biggest public education issue in Montgomery County (or any other county) then some groups really need to reexamine and realign their priorities...


--Brian Griffiths

Red Maryland has strived to be the premier blog and radio network of conservative and Republican politics and ideas in the free state since 2007. Its posts appear regularly on