Wasatch School District Limits Sweets, Junk Food

Wasatch School District Limits Sweets, Junk Food

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HEBER CITY, Utah (AP) -- The Wasatch School District has become the first district in the state to limit sales of sweets and junk food to pupils.

The policy as originally proposed would have completely ban pop and candy in vending machines and the use of food as a classroom reward.

As adopted, it requires 70 percent of student vending machine offerings to be water, milk, 100 percent fruit juices and edibles meeting the district's minimum nutritional standards.

It also bans vending machines in elementary and middle schools and it directs district officials to draft a plan to lower processed foods and increase fruits, vegetables and low-fat and low-sugar items.

The policy allows but discourages teachers from using food as rewards.

District vending machine contracts will have to be changed because of the new policy.

Vicci Gappmayer, principal of Wasatch High School, said vending contracts have brought in $12,000 to $14,000 for extracurricular activities. She doesn't believe the district will lose money because of the new policy, and is ready for the challenge of finding the right healthful food that kids will be interested in.

"The verdict is still out, but I am going to look at it in a positive vein because it gives kids healthy choices," Gappmayer said. "You can't put a dollar sign on student health -- if my revenue goes down, it may hurt a little bit, but who knows, it might go up."

Child obesity is a serious problem in the state and nationwide that demands attention, said district Superintendent Terry Shoemaker.

"We have got to wake up to the fact that unless we make some changes, we are going to have a generation who will not live nearly the length of their parents," Shoemaker said.

Other districts are also taking a look at their nutrition policies. Granite is urging schools to cut back on junk food. Nebo is taking a closer look at nutrition in its schools.

The state Board of Education also is urging schools to give enough lunch time and adequate seating so kids don't replace meals with machine-bought snacks.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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