Schwarzenegger Announces Support for Legislation Addressing Health Snacks in Schools
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Sunday indicated support for legislation to "ban the sale of all junk food in the public schools" in California, the Sacramento Bee reports. Responding to a question from a fan at the Arnold Classic bodybuilding event in Columbus, Ohio, Schwarzenegger said vending machines in public schools should be filled with "good food and fresh vegetables" (Delsohn, Sacramento Bee, 3/7).
According to the Los Angeles Times, aides later "clarified" Schwarzenegger's comments, saying that the governor is working on legislation to substitute milk and juice for soft drinks in school vending machines and place more fruits and vegetables in vending machines (Nicholas, Los Angeles Times, 3/7).
Schwarzenegger Chief of Staff Pat Clarey said, "I wouldn't say we're going to ban all" junk food, adding, "We just are looking at additional bills that will deal with snack food at high schools. ... We're looking for healthy snacks" (AP/Newark Star-Ledger, 3/7). Clarey said Schwarzenegger is working with "four or five groups of people" to draft legislation.
Schwarzenegger supports a bill (SB 965) by Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Whittier) that would ban soft drinks in high schools beginning in 2009. Former Gov. Gray Davis (D) in 2003 signed a bill banning most soda sales in elementary and middle schools.
Schwarzenegger also supports a bill (SB 281) by Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) that would create a two-year test program to distribute fruits and vegetables to students at as many as 25 schools at no cost (Sacramento Bee, 3/7).
In addition, the San Jose Mercury News reports that Schwarzenegger is working with food manufacturers and school officials to develop legislation to make nutritious snacks more widely available in schools (Marimow, San Jose Mercury News, 3/7).
Schwarzenegger aides said that "changing current practices would not be easy," the Times reports. Schools sometimes use vending machines as fundraising tools, and defining "junk food" could be difficult, an aide said.
Escutia said Schwarzenegger's comments were "fantastic news," adding, "The governor clearly understands the link between health and academic accomplishment" (Los Angeles Times, 3/7).