Mayor Eric Adams is backing away from his proposal to ban chocolate milk at least for now, and instead is urging Congress to pass legislation allowing vegetarian alternatives in select New York City schools, according to a letter. Obtained by The Post.
Adams, who follows a primarily vegan diet and has already scheduled plant-based menus in the city’s public schools, assured a nine-member bipartisan group of New York’s congressional delegation that he will not push to ban chocolate milk. , at least for now.
But he said he intends to pursue a pilot program, as well as federal legislation, requiring plant-based meals.
“My administration is committed to empowering our students and their parents with the information and resources necessary to make healthy decisions for themselves and for our city,” the city’s mayor wrote in a letter dated Thursday, April 14, addressed to the delegation from New York obtained by the charge.
“We are preparing for stakeholder engagement with our school communities to provide feedback on all aspects of our school feeding program. In the meantime, we will not make any decision on chocolate milk.”
The city’s chief executive also said he will give school principals the authority to decide whether they want to eliminate flavored milk in their own schools.
“At the discretion of the school principal, individual schools may choose to remove flavored milk from their menu as long as they continue to offer milk with each meal in accordance with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requirements,” their statement read. letter.
But upstate Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik criticized Adams’ letter as nothing more than a distraction from her true goal of replacing dairy with “vegan juice.”
“A temporary suspension of the decision to ban chocolate milk in schools, thanks to our bipartisan efforts, is a victory for farmers in upstate New York,” Stefanik told The Post in a statement.
She continued: “But make no mistake, any effort by Mayor Adams to ban chocolate milk and replace it with vegan juice is absolutely impossible and will be opposed by parents, families, children and New Yorkers. I will continue to lead the effort to protect real dairy products in schools for the sake of our children.”
Stefanik, the No. 3 Republican member of the House, has already introduced federal legislation requiring all schools to offer chocolate milk, in response to Adams’ intended ban.
Adams said he supports federal legislation sponsored by Brooklyn Democratic Rep. Nydia Velázquez that would allow a pilot healthy food program in schools.
He wrote: “This legislation amends the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act by establishing a pilot grant program for school food authorities to provide healthy, climate-friendly plant-based meal and milk options for students.” .
“I respectfully urge you to prioritize discretionary funding for a pilot program to provide healthy beverage alternatives in school lunch programs and to direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to commission a report examining the Relationship between flavored milk consumption and student health outcomes. he added.
Adams was responding to a letter written last month by Democratic Representatives Antonio Delgado, Grace Meng and Sean Patrick Maloney and Republican Representatives Elise Stefanik, Lee Zeldin, Claudia Tenney, Chris Jacobs, Tom Reed and John Katko pleading with the Mayor of Greater Apple to reconsider. his proposal to ban chocolate milk from the city’s public school dairy program.
The lawmakers cited studies in their letter showing that drinking chocolate milk helps children consume essential nutrients and key vitamins.
“Studies have also shown that flavored milk consumption is not associated with weight gain or even higher total daily sugar intake in children,” they wrote in their letter.
A recent poll by the International Dairy Foods Association found that 90% of voters living in the five boroughs that send their children to public schools support keeping low-fat flavored milk in public school meal programs. .