Connecticut House Passes Bill Ousting Junk Foods from Schools
Measure Must Return to Senate for Final Passage, Then to Gov.
Legislation prohibiting the sale of sugary sodas, candy bars, and other junk foods in schools passed the Connecticut House of Representatives last night and is headed back to the state Senate, where it has passed once before in slightly different form. According to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, the bill, which would now allow only juice, milk, water, and healthy snacks in K through 8 vending machines, would make Connecticut’s school foods the healthiest in the country. A successful amendment to the bill would allow diet sodas and Gatorade-type sports drinks in high schools, but only after the lunch hour.
"Schools should be offering the best of everything, not the worst," said CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan. "The explosion in childhood obesity and diabetes has many contributing factors, and one of them is the availability of high-calorie soft drinks and candy bars in schools. It’s about time a state legislature stood up to greedy soda companies and put kids’ health first. We call on Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell to sign the bill after it passes the state Senate again, so that Connecticut parents can have greater confidence that the state’s schools aren’t undercutting their efforts to raise healthy kids."
The bill also would ensure that Connecticut students in grades K through 5 receive at least 20 minutes of recess per day, in addition to existing physical education classes.
CSPI has been working to improve school foods with legislators and community leaders in several states. In 2003 it issued a School Foods Tool Kit to help parents and school administrators make changes. That kit includes case studies of how some schools have raised as much revenue—and sometimes more—by selling more healthful options than the soda, chips, candy, and other junk foods that many schools sell to kids.
CSPI’s model guidelines would not allow the Gatorade-type sports drinks in schools, since they have almost as much sugar as sodas. And although those drinks and diet sodas can displace more healthful drinks, the Connecticut bill sets the toughest school nutrition standards in the country.
Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).