Soft drink vending machines begin to fizzle out of CKSD

The American Beverage Association passed new guidelines in mid-August for what drinks should be sold in vending machines at schools. Some health experts quickly criticized the step as taken on the right path, but not big enough.

As part of an updated nutritional guidelines policy, the Central Kitsap School District aims to surpass the new ABA recommendations in an attempt to provide healthier options to students in local schools.

The ABA suggests vending machines should carry only water and 100 percent juice for elementary schools. For middle schools, no-calorie soft drinks are OK-ed for the school day, with full-calorie juice drinks and soft drinks available only after school. At high schools, soft drinks are to account for no more than half of the selection and a wide variety of options is recommended.

“I think (these guidelines) are compatible with what they (beverage companies) are doing and I think the local beverage merchants are interested in complying with those guidelines and our policy,” said Dirk Gleysteen, director of operations for CKSD.

Complying with the district’s policy, however, means going along with stricter guidelines than the ABA’s.

“We have a slightly different approach,” Gleysteen said.

Before the ABA rules were announced, the district’s Health Advisory Committee — consisting of Gleysteen, the food service director, a teacher, a counselor, school nurses and community members — came up with a stricter set of guidelines.

According to the district’s nutrition document, updated July 27, “Commencing in the 2007-08 school year, there will be no sales of soft drinks or fruit-flavored drinks to students at schools during the school day.”

This policy intends to ban pop and sugar-added fruit-flavored drinks from elementary schools, Gleysteen said, though written procedures to implement it will be adopted this fall.

For secondary schools, the district policy aims to eliminate all soft drinks during the school day, not limit their amount or allow only diet-pop, as the ABA suggests.

And as of yet, the district policy applies only to the school day.

“I don’t know whether anyone will think it is worthwhile to have a pop machine that operates only after school,” Gleysteen said.

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