Bill Would Ban School Soda Sales
by Marsha Herbst, Juneau Empire, February 15, 2004
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to rising levels of obesity, diabetes as reasons for measure.
Juneau-Douglas High School senior Brandon Brist drinks one or
two 20-ounce bottles of soda per day, because it tastes good. He
said he knows Pepsi isn't good for him, so he limits his intake.
But football and baseball player C.J. Keys, 17, won't touch the
"I quit drinking it four years ago. You just acquire a taste for
it. You think you need it, but it dehydrates you," Keys said.
Keys supports a bill in the Legislature that would ban soda
sales at school.
House Bill 80 would ban schools from selling between 8 a.m. and
5 p.m. carbonated beverages or drinks containing more than 42
grams of sugar per 20-ounce serving. Soft drinks that are more
than 50 percent fruit juice would be allowed.
Supporters of the bill point to rising levels of obesity and
Type 2 diabetes among teenagers and say schools should promote
healthy nutrition habits. But others worry that schools will
lose much-needed activities dollars if they pull the plug on the
JDHS, which has an open campus, would lose a lot of money if the
bill passes, said activities director Sandi Wagner.
"If a kid wants a pop, they're just going to go off campus and
get it anyway. Will we lose because the pop is accessible to
them on another avenue? Absolutely," Wagner said.
She said JDHS has averaged about $25,000 a year in vending
The machines sell snacks, Gatorade, water and juices in addition
to soda, but soda is the top seller, she said.
Brist said the answer is to lower the cost of juice, which runs
$1.50 a bottle, and increase the cost of soda, currently $1.25.
But juice costs the school more, Wagner said.
JDHS Principal Deb Morse said she would like to see the end of
school-day soda sales, but the money issue is a large concern.
"I wish that in a perfect world we would have money to run
activities without having to sell concessions, but I think
overall, if it would make a difference in student health and
address the issue of obesity, I think I would support it," Morse
Mary Francis, executive director of the Alaska Council of School
Administrators, said the soft-drink question should be a local
decision in the hands of school districts.
"I recently retired after 12 years as superintendent in
Petersburg. We pulled the plug on those machines during the
school day. Students didn't have access to them. You can do
that. You don't need a state law to tell them to do that,"
Bill sponsor Rep. Mary Kapsner, a Bethel Democrat, said she
modeled her legislation on a law passed in Oakland, Calif.,
which restricted soft-drink sales.
"They found that (the school districts) made more money off of
healthier substitutes in the vending machines," Kapsner said.
Cynthia Shaw, a family and consumer sciences teacher at JDHS,
said the bill is important, and should be accompanied with
"When you look at the irony of Pepsi-Cola sponsoring the
Olympics, it's all about business, it's all about making money,"
Shaw said. "Our athletes in the classroom know you don't drink
pop if you want to be successful at athletics."
Shaw allows her students to bring drinks into the classroom, and
while she advocates water and juices, she frequently sees sodas.
In her nutrition classes when she has students keep food
diaries, she is amazed to see how many of them drink soda to the
exclusion of other, healthier beverages.
"(Years ago) we were getting eight-ounce bottles of Coke as an
occasional treat. But now it has replaced milk in the diet of
many of our students," she said.
House Bill 80 was heard last week in the House Labor and
Commerce Committee, where it was held for further hearings. Rep.
Carl Gatto, a Palmer Republican, expressed concern during the
hearing that the bill would interfere with parental and local
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