Saturday, August 4, 2001

Surprise checks
enforce vending
policy at schools

A schools committee also votes
to include student proposals
in the existing policy

By Crystal Kua

The Department of Education plans to conduct unannounced checks at schools during the year to make sure they are following regulations on vending machines.

A school board committee on Thursday also approved incorporating into those regulations five recommendations from the Hawaii State Student Council, a group of student representatives throughout the state. Approval must also come from the full board.

The recommendations are aimed at striking a balance between providing schools a way to generate extra revenue, promoting healthy eating by limiting student access to vending machines, and minimizing exposure to commercialism.

The students said their research found that schools either forgot or disregarded the school board's directives on competitive food sales.

To help enforce the regulations, the department will conduct surprise checks, Assistant Superintendent Al Suga told the board on Thursday.

This year, the department will be going to four schools, Suga said, but the number of schools could increase in subsequent years.

The Student Council has been pushing for several months to get the board to adopt its recommendations, and members were pleased with the committee vote.

"It's been a long, long time," said Matthew McLane, outgoing Board of Education student member and co-chairman of the council's ad hoc committee on vending machines.

The recommendations are:

>> Confine vending machines on elementary campuses to areas restricted from students, such as in teachers' lounges.

>> Permit only vending machines with timers on school campuses. The timers would prevent students from buying vending machine products during breakfast and lunch.

>> Restrict commercial logos on school grounds except for the logos on the machines and its products. The board is also considering a policy on commercialism.

>> Prohibit the sale of coffee and coffee-based products from all school vending machines.

>> Require that water be dispensed from at least one machine.

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