LAist AirTalk podcast features Wendi Gosliner to discuss chocolate milk in school cafeterias and the USDA’s new proposed school nutrition standards

Jun 7, 2023

The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed new nutritional standards to improve the healthfulness of child nutrition programs, which includes school meals. The new rule sets strict sodium targets and the first ever restriction on added sugars. Among many school cafeteria foods, chocolate milk, which has almost half of a child's daily recommended intake of added sugars in one carton, is potentially on the chopping block. The LAist edition of AirTalk, hosted by Austin Cross, invited Dr. Wendi Gosliner, senior researcher with the Nutrition Policy Institute, to discuss the significance of the USDA's latest proposal for school nutrition standards. The podcast conversation centers around a central question: “How do we make sure [school] meals appeal to students while meeting their nutritional needs?” Gosliner acknowledged that initial pushback of the proposal is expected, citing pushback on the implementation of the 2012 Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act as an example. But she reminded listeners that new nutrition standards require a learning curve—they teach students what to get used to. She described how thoughtful removal of cafeteria staples, like chocolate milk, may help students part ways with familiar school foods and can offer a long term investment in student health. She also highlighted California's Universal School Meals program as a model for the nation with its bold investments. “School meals have the potential to be both tasty and nutritious,” said Gosliner. The LAist “AirTalk” episode is titled “USDA Considers Banning One Of The Best Parts Of School Lunch: Chocolate Milk” and can be found on the KPCC LAist website; scroll past the episodes listed in order of airing to find the May 19, 2023 episode.

By Katherine Lanca
Author - Graduate Student
By Danielle L. Lee
Editor - Director of Communications & Research Engagement
By Wendi Gosliner
Editor - Project scientist