Students at all grade levels continue to face a massive, $149 million-a-year marketing blitz from food vendors at school,.
Nearly 70 percent of high schools and nearly half of middle schools have exclusive drink contracts with companies. Ten percent of elementary and 30 percent of high schools serve branded food every week.
Incentive coupon programs, such as the “Limeades for Learning” program by Sonic restaurants, have become the most common type of marketing, seen in nearly two-thirds of elementary schools.
“All too often school officials believe that corporate support provides an acceptable solution to address budget shortfalls,” wrote Jennifer L. Harris, the director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, and Tracy Fox, a health policy consultant, in an editorial accompanying the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics. “However, this short-term solution comes with the potential for long-term detriment to students’ health and well-being.”
A version of this article appeared in the January 22, 2014 edition of Education Week as School Nutrition