Student Well-Being

Beverage Industry Sets Voluntary Rules for Soda Vending in Schools

By Vaishali Honawar — August 30, 2005 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The nation’s leading soft-drink producers have come up with voluntary guidelines that would restrict the sale of sodas in schools, but critics say the move will have almost no impact where the problem is worst—in high schools.

The board of the American Beverage Association, whose members collectively sell 85 percent of the soft drinks in the school vending market, approved the policy Aug. 16. Under the guidelines, producers would provide elementary schools with only water and 100 percent juice, and middle schools with nutritious and low-calorie drinks, including water, sports drinks, and fruit juices as well as diet soft drinks. In high schools, no more than 50 percent of vending machine selections could be regular or diet sodas.

“We believe this policy is a sensible approach that addresses the issues unique to the school environment,” Susan K. Neely, the trade group’s president, said in announcing the guidelines Aug. 17 in Seattle at the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures. The association includes major producers such as the Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc., as well as fruit-juice manufacturers such as Tropicana Products Inc. and many smaller beverage makers.

Margo Wootan, the director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group, said that while the guidelines are “a good step for elementary schools and a reasonable step for middle schools,” they fall short for high schools.

A study by Ms. Wootan’s group two years ago found that diet and regular sodas accounted for about 45 percent of the offerings in high school vending machines, with water, fruit juices, and sports drinks making up the rest. The beverage association’s guidelines would simply maintain the status quo, she said.

“High schools are where the vending problem is the worst,” Ms. Wootan said.

David K. Lohrrman, the president of the American School Health Association, based in Kent, Ohio, said the beverage trade group could have further scaled down the proportion of sodas offered in high school vending machines to 25 percent.

Ms. Wootan added that as more states pass laws regulating the sales of such beverages, the industry is responding to the “writing on the wall.”

State Action

Amy Winterfeld, a health-program analyst at the Denver-based NCSL, said 38 states have considered bills on school nutrition over the past three years, with 15 passing measures that require an improvement in the nutritional quality of foods served in schools or restrict the sale of sodas and junk food in vending machines.

A bill in Congress would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to come up with rules on the nutritional quality of foods sold through vending machines, a la carte lines, fundraisers, and other school venues. While the USDA now sets detailed standards for school meals, it has little authority over foods sold through vending machines and other sources.

“There is just a growing awareness that the number of obese children [in the country] has increased,” Ms. Winterfeld said.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that among American 6- to 19-year-olds, 16 percent, or more than 9 million, are overweight.

Some school systems have moved on their own to restrict the availability of sodas to students. In the 140,000-student Montgomery County, Md., school district, high schoolers have not had access to such beverages during the entire school day since the 2003-04 academic year, said Kathleen C. Lazor, the district’s nutrition director.

She said the school system was trying to educate children about making wise choices in nutrition.

“We wanted to make sure that as they are walking through the halls, they can make healthy choices as well,” she said.

Related Tags:

Events

Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind
Student Achievement K-12 Essentials Forum Tutoring Done Right: How to Get the Highest Impact for Learning Recovery
Join us as we highlight and discuss the evidence base for tutoring, best practices, and different ways to provide it at scale.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Spotlight Spotlight on SEL for Emotional Intelligence
This Spotlight will help you identify what classifies as SEL, implement an effective SEL program, and more.

Student Well-Being Opinion The Real Reason Why Students Procrastinate
Understanding what drives procrastination can help students learn how to overcome it, explains a clinical psychologist.
Seth J. Gillihan
2 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Getty
Student Well-Being 4 Ways to Leverage Education Foundations to Support School-Based Mental Health
Education foundations don’t need big budgets to help school districts with rising mental health challenges.
4 min read
Illustrated character getting carried away by a brain balloon.
iStock/Getty
Student Well-Being What Is the 'Mentoring Gap,' and How Can Schools Help Close It?
Overall, more young people have access to mentors, but Gen Z has fallen a bit behind millennials.
3 min read
Female teacher and male student sitting together at a table with a laptop and tablet
iStock/Getty