Student Well-Being

School Soda Sales Lose Fizz With Calif. Lawmakers

By Joetta L. Sack — September 10, 2003 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Most California public schools would be barred from selling sodas under a measure designed to help prevent childhood obesity that passed the legislature late last month.

The legislation would prohibit soda sales in elementary, middle, and junior high schools and would require schools to stock their vending machines with healthier drinks, such as juices, water, and milk.

It would also restrict elementary schools from selling individual portions of foods, such as french fries and doughnuts, that have high fat or high sugar content. Such foods could be sold as part of a full meal.

Last week, proponents were optimistic that Gov. Gray Davis would sign the measure, which was amended to exempt high schools from the bans. Gov. Davis, a Democrat, had not yet taken a position on the bill and has until next month to decide, said a spokesman for the governor.

About 30 percent of California children are overweight, a percentage that has risen dramatically in the past 20 years, according to the legislation.

The 2001 California Physical Fitness Test found that 27 percent of the state’s 5th, 7th, and 9th grade students were unfit and overweight. Poor nutrition and a lack of exercise have been persistent problems in some of the state’s districts, according to the legislation.

‘Small First Step’

Sen. Deborah Ortiz, a Democrat from the Sacramento area and the sponsor of the bill, has said she finds it hypocritical for schools to profit from selling sodas while teaching children about good nutrition, particularly in light of the state’s childhood-obesity statistics.

“Of course eliminating soda will not solve the entire obesity crisis, but it’s a significant and appropriate first step,” she said in a statement. “Our schools should offer children choices, healthy choices.”

The California chapter of the National PTA has supported the measure. The state group says that parents’ efforts to instill good nutritional values in their children are being undermined by schools’ sales of sodas and junk food.

The Los Angeles-based group interviewed administrators at California districts and schools that have already banned sodas, and found that those schools did not see any significant financial losses. In fact, some administrators said that students were buying more juices and other drinks.

Some educators opposed the legislation because vending machines have proved profitable for their schools, and helped defeat defeat of a similar bill last year.

Already, middle schools are prohibited from selling sodas for most of the school day, including lunch periods.

The National Soft Drink Association notes that revenues from soft drinks and other school vending-machine items often pay for sports equipment and after-school activities, which help keep students active, it says. The group opposed the California bill, arguing that parents, not the state, should decide what children eat and drink.

Related Tags:


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.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

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 Q&A How to Address Parents' Concerns That SEL Goes Against Their Values
A Texas instructional coach shares insights she has learned from talking with hesitant parents.
3 min read
Illustration concept of emotional intelligence, showing a woman balancing emotion control using her hand to balance smile and sad face icons.
Student Well-Being Pause Before You Post: A Social Media Guide for Educators in Tense Political Times
5 tips for educators and their students to avoid making harmful or false statements online that they later regret.
6 min read
Tight crop of a man's hands using a mobile phone with the popup box that reads "Delete post, Are you sure you want to delete this post? Cancel or Delete"
Gina Tomko/Education Week + Getty
Student Well-Being Opinion What Does the Dangerous Political Climate Mean for Schools?
Educators and researchers offer advice for navigating political polarization in the classroom.
5 min read
Grunge Collage styled urban graphic of US election
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Student Well-Being Q&A Why Educators Need to Better Understand What Drives Kids' Cellphone Addictions
As more school and day-to-day tasks are completed on smartphones and computers, teens struggle to manage their screen time.
3 min read
Young man and woman without energy on giant phone screen with speech and heart icons above them. Addiction. Contemporary art collage. Concept of social media, influence, online communication
Vanessa Solis/Education Week + iStock