Bill Targets Soda and High-Fat Foods in Schools
Responding to concerns about child obesity, Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Montebello) has proposed a bill (SB 19) that would ban the sale of sodas and high-fat snacks on school campuses, restrict fast food portion size at schools and prohibit student clubs from selling candy for fundraisers, the Sacramento Bee reports. The bill would offer $71 million to schools for cafeteria operations and $10,000 grants to school districts that adopt "policies on nutrition and physical activity." Escutia said that she would leave the issue of imposing similar restrictions on concessions sold at sporting events "open to debate" (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 3/19).
Calling Coca-Cola's plan to offer water and juice in vending machines as alternatives to soda "a partial victory," a San Francisco Chronicle editorial today says that money remains "the major player" in schools' decisions to adopt stricter nutrition standards. Without soft-drink contracts, "cash-strapped" schools will have to find other ways to raise money for "worthy causes" such as library books, band uniforms or sports teams. But despite the lessened revenue, and even though students who are "force-fed the snack food message" outside of school may still continue to choose unhealthy foods, the editorial concludes that Coke's decision is a success in the "crusade for improved health and restrained commercialism" (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/19).