Soda pop sales illegal at some schools |

Soda pop sales illegal at some schools

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

As national attention centers on the growing rate of childhood obesity, California is doing its part by banning the sale of soft drinks from some of its public schools.

Gov. Gray Davis approved the bill last week, effectively prohibiting soda sales at elementary and middle schools. Students can still bring soft drinks to school or purchase them before and after school.

There are no soda machines available for student use at the five elementary schools in Lake Tahoe Unified School District. South Tahoe Middle School, however, has six machines

Principal Mike Greenfield said students are mainly seen drinking soda at lunch, after school or on their bus rides home.

“I agree with it to an extent and what I mean by that is I don’t see the harm in having soda in the machines that are caffeine and sugar-free so they don’t have those things people object to,” Greenfield said.

Bottled water and sports drinks are also available from the machines. Under the district’s contract with Pepsi, only the company’s product can be sold in the machines but that includes diet soda and soda alternatives.

Greenfield said the school made a push to offer more diet soda. He said when the ban is implemented, non-soda drinks will remain available.

The principal said if a fight against childhood obesity is really going to be fought, the food pyramid needs to be realigned and students lifestyles need to be a bit sweatier, with an emphasis in exercise. He did contend that “every little bit helps.”

According to a study by Cornell University in September’s “Child Health Alert,” researchers found students who drink sodas gain weight because the drink replaced milk and added to calories from food intake.

Margaret McKean, one of two LTUSD school nurses, said child obesity will continue because of students’ diets containing super-sized portions, fats and carbohydrates. She added the lack of exercise doesn’t help.

At STMS, sixth-graders receive roughly 50 minutes of physical education each day. Seventh and eighth-graders have five 90-minute blocks of physical education every two weeks.

The law, SB 677, was authored by Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, and does not ban soft drink sales at high schools.

— E-mail William Ferchland at

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