The USDA did not ban chocolate milk in schools

The USDA is considering two plans to reduce children’s sugar intake. One would remove chocolate milk from school lunches, the other would only allow low-sugar versions.

Chocolate milk has long been a staple drink in school cafeterias, but recent stories about a potential United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ban on chocolate milk in schools have some people wondering if this has changed. Currently, “chocolate milk ban” is one of the top Google searches.


Has the USDA banned chocolate milk in schools?


  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

  • Spokesperson for several school districts, including Los Angeles Unified School Districts, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, DC Public Schools, Rock Hill Schools in South Carolina, Oakland Schools in Michigan, and Dublin City Schools in Ohio


No, the USDA has not currently banned chocolate milk in schools, but it is considering a proposal to remove it from elementary and middle school menus.

Sign up for the daily VERIFY Fast Facts newsletter!


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed updated nutrition guidelines for school lunches that include an option that would remove chocolate milk from school lunches for young students. A second option keeps chocolate milk available for students of all ages.

The USDA is still considering both options and has not yet made any changes to its school nutrition regulations.

The proposed change is intended to limit students’ consumption of added sugars. In its proposal, the USDA says there are currently no limits on added sugars in school lunch programs, but consuming too many added sugars can lead to health problems such as type 2 diabetes and disease. cardiac. Flavored milk is the top contributor of added sugar in school lunch and breakfast programs, according to the USDA.

Between Feb. 7, 2023, and May 10, the USDA sought public comment on its proposed nutrition standard changes, which would add a 10-gram limit on added sugars to flavored milk — including chocolate milk — and would maintain a pre-existing requirement that unflavored milk be offered at every school food service.

In addition to these changes, the USDA is offering one of two options for the remainder of the new regulations on added sugar in flavored milk.

The first option would not allow schools to include flavored milk in meal offerings for children in grades K-5 or 8, while still allowing flavored milk for older children. If this option were part of the final rule, it would not be effective until the 2025-2026 school year.

The second option would continue to allow flavored and unflavored milk for students of all grades, as long as the milk meets the new standards for added sugars.

The current rule requires that unflavored milk be offered at every school lunch service, but allows both flavored and unflavored milk to be offered to children in all grades, as long as the milk is low-fat or fat-free.

When the USDA finalizes its decision, it will affect school districts and independent schools that participate in its National School Breakfast Program and the National School Breakfast Program. Participating schools receive USDA funding and support in exchange for serving meals that meet federal nutrition regulations. Schools that do not participate in this program are not required to follow these regulations.

Several school districts contacted by VERIFY, including Los Angeles Unified School Districts, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Rock Hill Schools in South Carolina, Oakland Schools in Michigan, and Dublin City Schools in the Ohio, confirmed that they always include chocolate milk in the meals offered to students. . Several districts noted that the ban has not gone into effect and is not finalized.

Whitney Linsenmeyer, a nutritionist at Saint Louis University, said there can be 12 to 15 grams of added sugar in a carton of chocolate milk depending on the brand. Joan Salge Blake, director of Boston University’s nutrition program, said cartons of some brands that schools might use could contain up to 17 grams of added sugar.

Both options reflect a trade-off between more aggressively limiting young children’s intake of added sugars and the USDA’s recognition that children are more likely to drink what the USDA calls a “nutrient-rich drink” if it tastes good.

The USDA said it will consider public comments during the comment period when finalizing the new standards, including when deciding on which option to adopt. A spokesperson for the Oakland School District in Michigan said the final rule is expected to be released in the spring of 2024.

There are school systems that already discourage serving chocolate milk to students or prohibit it altogether, but these decisions are independent of rule changes proposed by the USDA. Washington, DC has required schools to offer only unflavored milk since 2010, a DC Public Schools spokesperson said. Similarly, New York City encouraged school principals to remove chocolate milk from school lunches for several years.

The VERIFY team strives to separate fact from fiction so you can understand what’s right and wrong. Please consider subscribing to our daily newsletter, SMS alerts and our YouTube channel. You can also follow us on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Learn more “

Follow us

Want something VERIFIED?

Text: 202-410-8808

Leave a Reply