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‘Snack Crack’

Our Children's Addiction to Sugar

A number of years ago, I took part in a video shoot in New York City with students living in an at-risk community. Before the filming began, I was talking to the kids, and I asked them what they had for breakfast. They replied, “snack crack.” I said, “Huh?” They responded, “Snack crack, you know … the adults get high by smoking crack, and we get our rush from eating and drinking sugar.” That exchange has stuck with me all of these years, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about it.

When I became the Director of Nutrition Services for the Berkeley Unified School District in California, and again when I became the Director of Food Services for Boulder Valley School District in Colorado, I eliminated flavored milk. In both cases, there was some initial pushback from the students and some parents, but it died down pretty quickly. In both districts, participation in the lunch program increased over time.

When the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act was passed in 2010, it addressed milk by stating that schools needed to serve two kinds – fat-free and 1 percent – and that flavored milk was allowed as long as it was fat-free. Additionally, unfettered access to water was mandated during all meal periods, something that had previously been omitted from school meals. As Congress prepares to reauthorize school lunch legislation and other child nutrition programs, the bipartisan draft bill would mandate a Department of Agriculture study of “milk consumption data and trends for school-aged children” when determining what varieties of milk should be available in school meals. This might sound reasonable, but I believe it to be an effort by the powerful dairy lobby to mandate higher consumption of milk in schools and to promote flavored milk as a way to do so, which of course would add more sugar into school meals.

As I write, I’m pondering a new decision for my school district: removing juice from school meals and carbonated sparkling juice from ala carte sales. When I made the flavored milk decision, it seemed like a no-brainer. But with this decision, I’ve had to do more thinking and research into the issue. Here’s what I’ve found...

Read the rest of the blogpost: “Snack Crack: Our Children’s Addiction to Sugar” (U.S. News & World Report)

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