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State board won't ban candy, soda in school vending machines

State board won't ban candy, soda in school vending machines



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The state school board won't be issuing a statewide ban on candy and soda in school vending machines.

"If the local boards would have wanted to have a policy, they'd have one. They've known about obesity ... it (makes) me sick that we are contributing to it," board member Denis Morrill said.

The proposal was intended to fight childhood obesity.

Board member Dixie Allen called the ban a "slap in the face" to local school districts that already have health policies as directed by the federal government. Board member Teresa Theurer said she supports a ban, but she's been elected to vote the will of her constituents. And six of seven school districts in her northern Utah area, she said, don't want the ban.

"Parents, if this is what you want to have in your high school, you have a process ... go to work," said board member Debra Roberts. "Let's put that responsibility on our local people."

On Friday, only four members of a 15-member board supported the ban.

School districts will have to come up with their own policies on vending machines as a result and submit them to the state school board in January 2009.

The State Board of Education had debated for months whether schools should allow the sale of foods of minimal nutritional value to children at any point during the school day.

They wondered whether schools that teach health and nutrition should also sell kids foods that can lead to obesity, one of the most pressing health issues facing this country.

However, vending machine sales bring in about $3.75 million a year for student programs, primarily in middle and high schools.

"Obesity is a serious issue, but I personally don't think this is going to have that significant an impact on it," board member Mark Cluff said. "Individuals need to learn how to control their lives, and if you don't have the choices, you're not learning control."

However, several board members said that if school district policies don't move in a healthier direction, perhaps the board should reopen the matter.

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Information from: Deseret Morning News

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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