'We used to have it, but then they just took it away,' the fourth-grader shared.
A 9-year-old demonstrated the power of protest earlier this month when he got his school district to rethink a 2020 decision to remove chocolate milk from the lunch menu. Fourth grader Jordan Reed was so upset with the decision that he led his classmates at Sierra Vista K-8 school in Vacaville, California, in a protest against the move—and actually got the tides to turn in their favor. Speaking to NBC affiliate KCRA-TV, Jordan said: "We used to have it, but then they just took it away." Sixth-grader Wesson Markowski remembers the good old days as though they were just yesterday. "Back when had chocolate milk when I was in fourth grade, you'd be lucky to get a spot for chocolate milk, because it would all be gone," he shared.
Richie Wilim, district chef and culinary manager, told The Washington Post that the district's nutrition officials decided to stop serving chocolate milk due to its high sugar content. Although officials faced some pushback when the change was implemented in 2020, it was nothing compared to what Jordan prepared for them after working on an assignment that hit close to home. It all began when Jordan’s teacher, Emily Doss, gave her class a Scholastic News article titled "Should Schools Serve Flavored Milk?" to review what her 27 students had learned earlier in the year about opinion and argumentative writing.
The story featured Esteban Perez, a Missouri fourth-grader who last year successfully petitioned to reintroduce strawberry milk at his school. The assignment had a big impact on the class and recognizing how strongly they felt about the lack of chocolate milk, Doss promised to revisit the topic the next day by researching arguments and outlining a letter to the district’s nutrition department. "But I didn't know that Jordan said, 'That's not good enough for me,'" she said.
A school district yanked chocolate milk off the menu. A 9-year-old got his entire class to protest. https://t.co/u6SYAuT7mV— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) February 11, 2022
The youngster started preparing for a protest as soon as he got home, making signs—"We need it please," "Less regular, more chocolate" and simply "Justice."—and creating chants—"What do we want? Chocolate milk! When do we want it? Now!" and "Say its name! Choc-olate milk!" with his little brother. Although he asked his mother to keep his planned protest under wraps, she decided it would be best to give her fellow principal at Sierra Vista a heads-up. Doss, however, only learned about Jordan's planned protest the next day and immediately rallied his classmates to help him pull it off.
Armed with well-researched arguments and protest signs, Jordan and his classmates ended up at the front of the school where Juan Cordon—the district's director of student nutrition— addressed their demands. The driven young boy told Cordon that providing only regular milk inadvertently causes food waste, as students drink less of it. He further pointed out that, if they don’t drink as much milk, they might miss out on the nutrients chocolate milk provides, like calcium and vitamin D. Doss, for one, was impressed. "We're trying our hardest to inspire our kids to take the information that we teach them and apply it in a real-world situation," she said.
Jordan's impressive argument also convinced school officials to agree on a compromise: They decided to serve chocolate milk one day every two weeks. "I felt good about it because I brought back something that everybody wanted," said Jordan. Wilim, the district chef, admitted that he and others in the nutrition department "were missing a key component" until they heard from their most important critics. "To remove it completely maybe wasn't the best decision," he said. "It was really cool the way that Jordan presented himself to bring in a healthy debate and for us to find a compromise — that chocolate milk should be available as a treat." School administrators have since sweetened the deal they struck with the students to offer chocolate milk once a week instead of every other week.