Schwarzenegger Signs Bills To Limit Junk Food in Schools
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Thursday signed bills addressing school nutrition at the Summit on Health, Nutrition and Obesity at the state fairgrounds in Sacramento, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Norwalk) started a legislative effort to remove sodas and junk food from all public schools in 1998 (Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 9/16). Schwarzenegger signed two bills by Escutia: SB 965, which extends the current ban on the sale of sodas in elementary and middle schools to high schools, and SB 12, which would require foods sold in school vending machines to meet state nutritional standards and regulate the number of calories that can come from fat and sugar. Both bills will take effect in July 2007.
The governor also signed SB 281, by Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-San Luis Obispo), which will provide $18.2 million during fiscal year 2005 to offer more fruits and vegetables in school meal programs (Chorneau, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/16).
The new restrictions apply only to food sold at school campuses and will not affect what students can bring to school (Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/16).
The new legislation "will give California some of the toughest school nutrition standards in the nation," the Contra Costa Times reports (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 9/15). More than a dozen other states have school nutrition standards to help address childhood obesity.
Many Republicans in the Legislature, along with California Chamber of Commerce members and food manufacturers, opposed the measures (Vogel, Los Angeles Times, 9/16).
Officials have acknowledged that the new restrictions could result in some schools losing funds from vending contracts, but Escutia has said vendors can continue to do business with schools by marketing their water or other beverages on campuses (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/16).
Schwarzenegger "kept his promise to promote healthier eating in schools by signing three bills," a San Francisco Chronicle editorial states, adding that the governor's "leadership clearly helped advance SB 965" and related legislation.
In addition, the editorial encouraged the governor to sign other health-related bills, including:
AB 772, by Assembly member Wilma Chan (D-Oakland), which would raise the income guideline for state health insurance programs for children;
SB 600, by Sens. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) and Don Perata (D-Oakland), which would establish a statewide biomonitoring program; and
SB 576, also by Ortiz, which would require health insurers to provide coverage for smoking-cessation treatments (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/16).