Soda pop driven out of public schools

Published 9:34 am Thursday, May 4, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Soda pop has been expelled from public schools.
An announcement Wednesday by the William J. Clinton Foundation stated the top beverage distributors in the country - PepsiCo Inc, Coca-Cola Co., Cadbury Schweppes PLC and the American Beverage Association - agreed to put an end to nearly all soda pop sales to public schools.
The William J. Clinton Foundation was organized by former President Bill Clinton to, in part, create healthier opportunities for young adults.
Only water, unsweetened juice and low-fat milks will be sold to elementary schools, but no soda pop.
The sale of diet sodas to public high schools has been permitted, but at least half the drinks sold are required to be water and no or low calorie beverages with up to 10 calories for every 8 ounces.
For high schools, milk, 100 percent juice, light juice and sports drinks will be sold in 12 ounce containers.
Any milk - low fat, non fat regular and flavored - can not exceed 150 calories per 8 ounces. Drinks of 100 percent juice with no added sweeteners must contain no more than 120 calories for every 8 ounces and the same size light juices and sports drinks should possess less than 66 calories.
The same guidelines apply for non-soda drinks for elementary and middle schools, but beverages will be sold in 8 and 10 ounce servings, respectively. A district will be able to adopt the high school guidelines if their middle and high school students share the same facility and have access to the same beverages.
The initiative should cause little change in local schools, according to representatives from Niles and Brandywine districts. Director of Finance and Operations for Brandywine Community Schools Sue Furney said the biggest adjustments will be an increase in juice and milk products in the school's vending machines.
Furney added the vending machines have some soda pop in them but they are not turned on during school hours. Instead, access is limited to after school clubs, activities and sporting events.
The same rule applies for the vending machine at Brandywine Elementary, Furney said. The machine at the district's third through sixth grade building is strictly used for after school functions or the rare classroom party. Merritt Elementary - with grades kindergarten through second - has a vending machine in the teacher's lounge only, Furney added.
Future plans for Brandywine, besides eliminating non-diet sodas, include installing vending machines that can be automatically programmed to shut-off during school hours.
Through the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act of 2004, public schools are required to adopt a local wellness policy by the beginning of the 2006/2007 school year. Included in the plan must be nutrition and physical education guidelines as an effort to reduce obesity among children.
Superintendent of Niles Community Schools Doug Law said the district has planned to write a new policy over the summer.
Law added there are no vending machines in any Niles elementary schools, but soda pop is currently offered at the high school.
A study released by the American Beverage Association in December reported more students are purchasing diet and unsweetened teas, diet sodas, sports drinks, flavored water, seltzer and low-calorie sports drinks. And, the same report stated the sales of regular soda pop has decreased in schools as well, but the drink remained the most popular among students and accounted for 45 percent of beverages sold in schools in 2005.