School soda sales could end
All sugary drinks would be banned from vending machines under a BOE proposal
All sodas, sugary juices and sports drinks would be banned from public school vending machines under a new policy under consideration by the Hawaii Board of Education.
The policy, which must still be voted on by the full board, goes even further than new voluntary restrictions announced yesterday by national soft drink makers.
Under current Hawaii rules, 80 percent of a school vending machine's selection must be "healthy" drinks.
But the new plan would ban all beverages except healthy options such as water, milk products and fruit juices containing no less than 50 percent juice, Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen said.
No beverages except water would be sold during school meal times.
The new rules are part of a larger food-sales policy that is awaiting feedback from unions and other involved parties but which otherwise looks set for board approval, members say. The new rules would apply to elementary, middle and high schools and would be effective upon approval.
"Our policy goes further and would go into effect sooner," Knudsen said, referring to the big beverage makers' plans.
Bowing to pressure, soft drink makers including Cadbury Schweppes, Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. agreed to sell only water, unsweetened juice and low-fat or nonfat milk products in elementary and middle schools.
Diet sodas and sports drinks would be sold in high schools. Sugared sodas would no longer be sold at any level. The manufacturers said it would take more than two years to fully implement the new approach nationwide.
Currently, vending machine sales are not allowed during school hours. Machines are locked up during that time or attached to timers.
Board member Lei Ahu Isa, who chairs the committee that approved the rules, said she has seen no significant opposition to the plan, first proposed several months ago.
However, at least one principal said teachers were upset that even they could not get access to soda during school hours.
"If they need their caffeine fix, then they can bring their own from home. We've got to think about the kids," Ahu Isa said.
Some principals also previously raised concerns that restrictions would close off a revenue source that brings in several hundred thousand dollars a year for school programs statewide.
The juice-content requirement would rule out many commercially available juice drinks, including popular local juice products such as those manufactured by Hawaiian Sun, which range from about 2 percent to about 15 percent actual juice.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.