Schools look for equal treatment for chocolate milk

Some P.E.I. parents and educators are calling for a more affordable price for chocolate milk in Island schools.

Some P.E.I. parents and educators are calling for a more affordable price for chocolate milk in Island schools.

'We have heard some complaints from parents.'— Charmaine Campbell, Healthy Eating Alliance

White milk has been subsidized since the 1980s through the work of the P.E.I. School Milk Foundation, but chocolate milk isn't.

In the cafeteria at Summerside Intermediate School, it costs $2 for a 500-millilitre bottle of chocolate milk, as opposed to $0.75 for white milk. Principal Doug Doyle would like to see it made more affordable.

"I would love to see the chocolate milk subsidized," Doyle told CBC News Friday.

"From what we understand, the nutritional value is the same in chocolate and white milk. So if we want them to drink milk, they're drinking the chocolate milk but they're paying more for it."

Charmaine Campbell, a registered dietitian with the Healthy Eating Alliance, said the attitudes of health professionals towards chocolate milk have changed. It used to be seen as a sugary treat, but it does have the same nutritional value as white milk, with a few extra teaspoons of sugar.

"We have heard some complaints from parents about the pricing of chocolate milk," said Campbell.

"The Healthy Eating Alliance would be supportive of having chocolate milk subsidized."

No money in budget

The P.E.I. School Milk Foundation, funded by the Department of Education and the Dairy Farmers of P.E.I., has a budget of a little more than $100,000. Almost half of that goes into subsidizing the cost of white milk.

Program co-ordinator Barbie Bevan said there is no room in the current budget to subsidize chocolate milk.

"We are not opposed to having chocolate milk subsidized in any way shape or form. It's just we know that at the present time, as a board, we are not able to go forward with that," said Bevan.

Bevan said the school milk foundation has not approached the P.E.I. government for more funding towards subsidizing chocolate milk.

The idea of subsidizing milk in schools is not without precedent. Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick subsidize both white and chocolate milk in their schools.