City Councilman Bill DeBlasio hates to say he told you so — but he did: schoolkids are drinking a lot less milk ever since the city did away with full-fat and two-percent varieties.
“I actually do hate to say ‘I told you so,’ but, as a parent, I knew it was inevitable that kids would drink less milk” when the Department of Education began offering only no-fat milk (plain or chocolate) and one-percent-fat plain milk last year, said DeBlasio (D–Park Slope).
But DeBlasio didn’t know how much less milk kids would consume until he received a letter from the DOE last month that said milk drinking is down 10 percent in the one year since the city made the low-fat move.
“By their own numbers, that’s 50,000 fewer boxes of milk given out in schools every single day,” he said. “I’m amazed.”
DeBlasio’s general welfare committee held a hearing on the matter this week. City dieticians stood by their goal of reducing fat intake in schools — but some independent nutritionists testified that any benefit in fat reduction was undermined by the fact that kids weren’t drinking enough milk.
“They’ve turned off milk and now are drinking soda when they get out of school,” DeBlasio said.
He’s calling for the Department of Education to bring back one-percent-fat chocolate milk, despite the added sugar.
“Kids don’t get enough fluids as it is. So even if it has some fat, we need to encourage milk drinking,” he said.
“If consumption goes up again, they can stop there,” DeBlasio added. “They’ll have it both ways — reducing fat, while keeping kids drinking milk.”
DOE officials appeared to be holding the line. Despite a drop-off in milk consumption, Martin Oestreicher, who runs the DOE’s Office of School Support Services, told DeBlasio, “the milk policy did not deter students from eating our nutritious meals.”
He said the healthier lunches were being consumed by 64.5 percent of students, up from 63.8 percent last year.