Coke might be the real thing, but beginning next year, Burbank
Unified middle school students will have to quench their thirst with
water, milk or fruit juice instead of soda.
Gov. Gray Davis this week signed Senate Bill 677, which restricts
the sale of soft drinks in elementary and middle school vending
machines. The legislation goes into effect in January.
Although soft drinks are not sold in the district’s elementary
schools, they are available at middle schools. Under the bill,
schools would be allowed to provide soft drinks at after-school
David Starr Jordan Middle School Principal Mary Margaret Kijunak
said she has mixed feelings about the legislation.
“Half of me wants to say [students] don’t need the sugar,” Kijunak
said. “But the other half says they will probably bring the drinks
While acknowledging that childhood obesity is an epidemic, John
Muir Middle School Principal Daniel Hacking believes changes in
children’s nutritional habits have to start at home.
“I feel that it’s a good thing that kids don’t have soft drinks,
but it’s not going to work through legislation,” Hacking said.
Obesity rates have tripled among adolescents, according to a
report released this week by the Center for Science in the Public
Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based independent advocacy group. Soda
consumption by children rose 40% between 1989 and 1996, the report said.
The soda bill, as originally submitted by Sen. Deborah Ortiz
(D-Sacramento), would have banned the sale of soft drinks in all
public elementary and secondary schools, but high schools were spared
once the bill reached the Assembly Health Committee.
The high school provision didn’t have sufficient votes, said
Assemblyman Dario Frommer (D-Burbank), the committee chairman.
By dropping high schools from consideration, Frommer said the ban
would take effect earlier than 2005, the start date of a previous
bill Davis signed into law in 2001.
“I think it was a big improvement. I’m actually pleased at the way
it turned out,” he said.