Some southwest ND schools cut access to soda, energy drinksSome area high schools are trying to prevent students from quenching their thirst with sugar-filled beverages by eliminating the choice of soda and energy drinks. And to avoid losing business, some soda companies are putting timers on vending machines so students can purchase certain beverages at certain times.
By: April Baumgarten, The Dickinson Press
Some area high schools are trying to prevent students from quenching their thirst with sugar-filled beverages by eliminating the choice of soda and energy drinks. And to avoid losing business, some soda companies are putting timers on vending machines so students can purchase certain beverages at certain times.
“Statistics have shown that students learn and retain more information if they don’t drink beverages with sugar,” South Heart Public School Principal Guy Fridley said.
SHPS is one of more than a dozen public schools in western North Dakota trying to limit the amount of sugar-filled beverages students consume, according to area school policies. Fridley said drinking healthy beverages, such as water and juice, helps students think clearer.
“It really helps students on the focus factor,” he said. “Soda can cause students to get excited.”
Though South Heart does not have a policy, some schools mention soda and healthy drinks in their handbooks. For example, Belfield High School’s handbook says, “Water and other healthy liquids sanctioned for sale during the regular school day may be consumed in the classroom, pending teacher approval.”
BHS Principal Jeffrey Lamprecht said he endorses water, adding “I’ve been pleased to learn that more and more students are choosing water as a substitute for pop and other sugar-saturated drinks.”
Belfield began taking soda from the machines when the Department of Public Instruction began restricting beverages of “minimal nutritional value,” said Lamprecht, who is in his eighth year at BHS.
Schools had to have a wellness program as of 2006, said Deb Egeland, assistant director of Children Nutrition Programs at the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.
“Every school has different rules,” she said. “Some are stricter than others. They just cannot be more lenient.”
Lamprecht said programs to get students to make healthier decisions have really helped.
“I think kids are more sensible,” Lamprecht said.
South Heart has not eliminated soda completely from vending machines. Fridley said the machines have timers on certain buttons which do not allow students to purchase soda until after school.
They can still buy soda without sugar, he said.
These programs may have put stress on beverage companies, but many have come to an agreement. Companies like Pepsi and Coke have passed a “Memo of Understanding” through the American Beverage Association.
“Pepsi and Coke want to sell their products in schools,” Egeland said. “They will go in and remove soda and put timers on machines. If they can come to an agreement without having a law passed, they will do it.”
While some schools have eliminated the choice of soda and energy drinks, others let students decide.
“We have a variety of drinks,” said Trinity High School Principal Carter Fong said. “They are not prohibited.”
Fong said that students have had this option since he started at Trinity two years ago. Fong said the key to helping students make good choices is to emphasize healthy drinks and educate students on alternatives to sugar-filled drinks.
“Coaches are big on nutrition and hydration,” Fong said. “Many do not allow their athletes to drink pop. We teach that it is not the healthiest choice.”
Fong said the administration looked at removing the drinks. However, the school felt it was better to give students choices.
“We give them the same choices they would have if they went out to a restaurant,” Fong said. “We hope that wherever they go they make good choices, and many of them do.”