by Jack Minor –
Parents have expressed concerns over a recent notice advising them not to allow their children to bring sodas to school.
In a recent newsletter, parents were told that as, per a policy passed by the school board last October, “soda is no longer allowed in the cafeterias at the elementary and middle school levels.”
The notice went on to say, “Regardless of where the soda is purchased and by whom, it should not enter the cafeteria.” and that the policy is intended to educate the students about what beverages are considered healthy and “encourage them” to exchange their sodas for other choices such as milk or juice.
The district passed the policy last year upon the advice of the Student Wellness Committee which was established in 2005 as part of the re-authorization of the National School Lunch Program by the USDA.
Jeremy West, Nutrition Services director for the district, said part of the reason for the soda free zones was because soda contains a high amount of sugar and has little nutritional value. West said, based on that, the committee felt soda consumption was not conducive to student achievement and the no soda policy was also created to help fight childhood obesity.
While the newsletter said school officials were not intending to be the “soda police” several parents have expressed anger over the new proposal saying they feel it infringes on their rights as a parent. Questions have also been asked about why the ban does not apply to the High School.
West said the high schools were not going to be soda free zones at this time because they have been accustomed to having soda in the cafeteria for years and would have a harder time embracing the concept. Adopting the soda free zone in the elementary and middle schools gives officials an “opportunity to create a culture of reduced soda consumption during the school day.”
West reiterated that the district has no intention of prohibiting students from bringing sodas from home is they so choose.
“Parents and students can still choose to consume soda during their time in the cafeteria,” he said. “We are simply trying to create a culture that gears students towards making healthy beverage choices.”
Skip Colwell, who has a daughter who attends Scott, said he felt that to be consistent the district should also ban soda machines in the teachers’ lounges.
West said the soda free zones will only apply to the cafeteria and teachers will still be able to purchase sodas in the lounge.