LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — One million eight hundred thirty eight thousand five hundred forty four.
That’s how many ounces of strawberry-flavored milk Montgomery County students bought at school during the month of October.
Starting in January, that monthly number will be zero.
Marla Caplon, director for Montgomery County Public Schools’ Division of Food and Nutrition Services, explains that parent complaints prompted her to remove strawberry milk from the menu countywide.
Popularity-wise, it was more preferred than regular milk but far less popular than chocolate milk, both of which will remain options for students.
In October, students purchased 196,982 eight-ounce containers of regular milk , 229,818 eight-ounce containers of strawberry milk and a whopping 882,345 eight-ounce containers of chocolate milk, according to Caplon.
“Philosophically, I’m a proponent of flavored milk,” she said Wednesday. “If flavored milk is offered, more students select milk.”
She hopes students who have already complained about the decision after it was announced last week will fall back on either regular or chocolate milk, instead.
“The kids are really disappointed,” she said, but “they’ll be OK… we’ve made changes before and we’ve taken items away before and, you know, it’ll be OK.”
One of the main strawberry milk-related complaints from parents was that it contains red dye 40, Caplon says. Between 12 and 15 parents relayed complaints in the past few months.
“When there’s a volume of questions specific to a product, there sometimes needs to be action taken,” she said.
Caplon does not anticipate the removal of chocolate milk. She says Fairfax County and D.C. public schools both eliminated chocolate milk a few years ago and have since brought it back since milk consumption went down so much.
Although fruit-flavored milk fans are already pouting, at least one group is rejoicing about the change.
The grassroots parent advocates who make up Real Food for Kids Montgomery placed this announcement on their website:
“This is a big win for the kids in MCPS. Getting rid of the strawberry milk has consistently scored at the top of the list of priorities for RFKM’s members, as it contains Red Dye #40, artificial chemical flavor, high fructose corn syrup, propylene glycol and 25 grams of sugar. We say good riddance to the pink milk, and hello to calmer, better behaved children ready to learn!”