School Board Softens Stand on Sale of Soft Drinks

Times Staff Writer

Seeking a compromise between economic and health factors, the Los Angeles Board of Education voted Monday to once again allow cafeterias at all schools to sell soda pop--but only the kind that does not contain caffeine or sugar.

In a 5-2 vote the board agreed to allow the sale of certain kinds of carbonated beverages, rejecting the district's food services division's request to let it also sell regular Pepsi-Cola.

Bruce Brady, division director, told the board that drinks such as Pepsi would help lure students back to cafeterias. In the past two years, the cafeterias in the district's 49 high schools have lost a total of $2 million. There has been no major loss of revenues at the elementary and junior high school levels.

But the board refused to place profits above nutrition and would give in only on the sugar-free, caffeine-free variety.

Five years ago the board, in an attempt to improve the nutritional quality of food served by the district, banned the sale of soft drinks and most so-called junk foods. That ban was partially lifted last year to allow the sale of machine-dispensed soft drinks after the board learned that student activity funds were losing an average $5,000 a year per campus because of the loss of revenues from machine sales of soft drinks.

High school principals and student leaders teamed up to battle cafeteria sales of soft drinks, because they feared competition from the cafeteria would cut into their revenues from the machines.

Brady said his divisions can be ready to begin sales in 30 days.

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