June 21, 2006
Contact: ASD Communications Office
Comeau bans sale of soda and junk food at schools and school offices
Anchorage School District Superintendent Carol Comeau made official today a districtwide ban on soda and junk food sales in schools, a move she said this spring would be coming following the recommendations given to her from the district’s Wellness Committee and the municipality’s Mayor’s Task Force on Obesity and Health.
“It is the right thing to do given the rising numbers of youth and adults who are overweight,” said Comeau.
Comeau today released a memorandum to district principals and administrators outlining the new rules. The memo states that “the District is changing the vending machine contracts to only healthy choices throughout the District. … Sodas will not be allowed in any vending machines. Healthy choices are defined as no more than 30% total calories coming from fat with 10% or less of those coming from saturated fat and where added sugar is less than 35% by volume.”
The administrative policy will be in effect each school day from 6 a.m. until 30 minutes after students are dismissed. It applies to vending machines, school stores, school and administrative offices, high school cafeteria fountain drink machines, and fundraisers held by booster clubs, parent-teacher associations, and other organizations. Comeau said that the new rules do not apply to food and drinks brought to school for personal consumption by students or staff.
“We are not going to inspect lunches brought from home and confiscate sodas and junk food. The new policy only applies to food and beverages that are sold at school or distributed by school.”
The new rules do not restrict the sale of food and beverages after school and in the evenings, allowing concession stands at sports games and community events to continue offering sodas and snacks.
Vending companies have given the district a list of products they carry that meet the new guidelines. Students and staff this fall can expect to see beverage vending machines stocked with water, 100 percent juice, club soda, tonic water, and sports drinks, juices and flavored water products that meet the sugar limitations. Food vending machines will carry single-serving-size products that meet the limitations on calories, fat, and sugar.
“This is certainly a good step toward improving the physical health of our students, but it won’t be our last step,” said Comeau. “We also will be looking at ways to increase physical activity and education. I will be asking every school and support service department to set wellness goals to improve nutrition and physical activity.”
Comeau adds that schools cannot improve children’s wellness on their own. “Parents, pediatricians and other health providers, and the community at large must support healthful eating habits and increased physical activity. Children spend more time outside of school – afternoons and evenings, weekends, summer – than at school. And one-third of all the five-year-olds and six-year-olds who enter our schools for the very first time are already overweight. If parents and the community cannot support the improvements we’re making at school, we will not be able to turn that statistic around.”