Francisco Schools Banish Junk Food
Distributed by Parents Advocating School Accountability
Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle, August 24, 2003
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San Francisco students will soon say goodbye to snack bar
lunches consisting of nachos or colossal hamburgers washed down
with Cokes in bucket-sized containers.
When school opens this week, San Francisco will begin
implementing arguably the healthiest food regimen of any school
district in the nation.
Oakland has already junked soda sales in its schools, as has
Berkeley. Together, the districts are putting the Bay Area at
the forefront of the battle against childhood obesity.
That's where the Bay Area should be. The healthier "California
cuisine" pioneered here shouldn't only be the province of
patrons of upscale restaurants. A school-based version is long
These districts have wisely decided that schools should be
teaching kids healthy eating habits, not endangering their
health by feeding them products of little or no nutritional
Eliminating calorie-laden foods from our schools won't solve the
problem of childhood obesity. But it is a good place to start.
In the face of the district's own predictions that the new
policies could cost the district as much as $200,000, we commend
Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and her staff for working to
implement the healthy foods resolution passed by the school
board last February. "We are moving ahead on all fronts," Lorna
Ho, a special assistant to Ackerman, told us.
In snack bar lines known as beaneries, students will be able to
buy fresh deli sandwiches, soups, salads and sushi. Food
portions themselves will be downsized. All foods will have to
exceed the federal government's "food of minimal nutritional
These are all positive changes. We're disappointed the district
is moving more cautiously to eliminate junk foods from vending
machines located outside school cafeterias. Beginning next
January, the machines will be emptied of sodas. And candy bars
will be replaced with snacks such as Nutri-grain fruit bars,
Rice Krispie treats and sunflower seeds.
Fundraising sales of old-time favorites like Hershey bars, See's
candy, and Slim Jims will also be banned beginning next year.
Now that that the district has embarked on an ambitous path
toward student health, we urge administrators -- and parents --
to take on the problem of vending machines and fund-raising
The pioneering food program is the result of pressure brought by
a determined group of parents, and builds on a successful pilot
project at Aptos Middle School. Aptos showed that kids won't
starve when offered nutritious foods, and that schools can
actually make more money doing so.
Some students will grouse about having to eat string cheese
instead of Snickers bars. But we trust school officials, parents
and students will work to overcome whatever obstacles may come
up. Now it is up to other school districts to follow Oakland and
San Francisco's lead.
What You Can Do
If you are a San Francisco parent or student, urge your school
principal to implement the new guidelines immediately. Call the
district at (415) 241-6565 to get a copy.
If you live outside San Francisco and want your local school to
provide healthier foods, encourage school board members to adopt
a policy similar to San Francisco's lead.
For more information on healthy school food, and for a free
downloadable guide to getting rid of junk food in your child's
school, go to www.pasasf.org.
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