Schools Relieved as State Lawmakers Agree to ‘Watered-Down’ Nutrition Bill
Lobbyists succeeded in persuading state lawmakers to "water down" a school nutrition bill that would have banned junk food and soda sales in elementary and middle schools and "partially eliminated them" at high schools, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. School districts "feared" that the original bill would "bankrupt many cafeterias." The bill (SB 19), sponsored by Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Montebello) and signed last week by Gov. Gray Davis (D), "set[s] limits" on the percentage of fat and sugar allowed in snacks and beverages sold at elementary schools and partially bans soft drink sales in junior high schools. But the Union-Tribune reports that junk food sales are already "minimal" in elementary schools, and that the new law "changes nothing" at high schools. Judy Rentner, director of business support services for the Escondido Union High School District, said that the original bill would have been "devastating" to high school districts, many of which depend on junk food sales for "millions of dollars in funding" for cafeteria operations, including the salaries of food service workers. Sue Gilroy, director of food services for the San Diego Unified School District, said, "From a nutritionist standpoint, it's difficult to defend selling a lot of carbonated drinks and super-sized bags of chips. But the way that California funds food service departments leaves us no choice" (Parmet, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.