Organic Consumers Association

Senate Bill to Limit Sales in Schools of Sodas & Candy


Leahy, Lugar Offer Bill to Limit Sales in Schools of Empty-Calorie
Sodas, Snacks Leahy Also Introduces Bill Promoting Healthy Choices

May 7, 2003

WASHINGTON, -- Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Richard Lugar
(R-Ind.) Tuesday introduced legislation to allow the Secretary of Agriculture
to more effectively restrict the sale of soft drinks and other foods of
minimal nutritional value in schools that participate in the federal school
lunch program.

Leahy introduced a similar measure in 2001, about the same time that a
report to Congress compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
encouraged Congress to make statutory changes to promote the consumption
of more nutritious foods on school grounds.

The report concluded that only 2 percent of the nation's school children
were meeting the Food Guide Pyramid serving recommendations for all five
major food groups.

The American Soft Drink Association reports that 60 percent of the
nation's middle and high schools sell soft drinks, often in vending machines.
Current federal school lunch rules prohibit the sale of foods of minimal
nutritional value, including soft drinks, in school cafeterias during the lunch

The Leahy-Lugar bill would allow the Agriculture Secretary to more
broadly regulate sales of these empty-calorie foods throughout school grounds
until the end of the school lunch period. 'When students fill up on sodas
and junk food, it displaces the balanced nutrition available in the cafeteria,'
said Leahy, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Subcommittee on
Research and Nutrition, of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and

'That makes dollars and cents for vendors, but it does not make sense
for students or for the taxpayers who are paying the bill.

Childhood obesity is a growing concern to families everywhere, and
school lunches are a key source of good nutrition for millions of children.
This bill offers a sensible way to resist influences that are undermining
that source of good nutrition.'

Leahy and Lugar intend to offer the sodas in schools bill during the
Agriculture Committee's work this year on legislation reauthorizing
child nutrition programs. Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.),
and Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) are cosponsors of the Leahy-Lugar bill.

Leahy this week also introduced a separate package of child nutrition
programs -- which he will also offer on the child nutrition
reauthorization bill -- aimed at educating children about the benefits of eating
healthy and ensuring that schools have access to more healthy foods. Leahy's Child
Nutrition Initiatives Act of 2003 includes provisions to reinstate
funding for the Nutritional Education and Training (NET) Program, to secure
funding for the successful WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, to update the
all-state minimum that guarantees all states a minimum amount of
federal child nutrition funding, and to create a new farm-to-cafeteria program
to supply locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables to school cafeterias.

Copyright (C) 2003, U.S. Newswire

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