Soft drinks to be pulled from elementary schools

The Canadian soft drink industry’s announcement last week that it would be voluntarily pulling all carbonated beverages from vending machines in elementary schools across the country will have little effect on the schools in Rainy River District.
“The announcement doesn’t really affect us. We don’t have pop machines in our schools,” noted John Madigan, director of education for the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
Darlene Madill, communications officer for the Rainy River District School Board, said the same was true of its elementary schools.
“We don’t have any vending machines. Some schools have cafeterias where students can buy juice or milk,” Madill said.
Madigan added his board is well aware of the health concerns around soft drinks.
“It’s part of our strategic plan to promote fitness and proper nutrition,” he noted. “Our schools have been looking at these issues for some time.”
Refreshments Canada, an industry association representing more than 35 brands of non-alcoholic refreshment beverages, announced last Tuesday that beverage manufacturers would sell only non-carbonated drinks in elementary and middles schools across Canada beginning in September.
The beverage companies promised to ensure 50 percent or more of drink selections offered in vending machines would be water and pure fruit juices, with the remaining choices being made up of a variety of other non-carbonated beverages like juice drinks and sports drinks.
“The key, as in everything we eat and drink, is moderation and balance,” Calla Farn, director of public affairs for Refreshments Canada, said in a press release.
“Young children often need parents or guardians to help them make the appropriate food and beverage choices.”
Farn added the beverage industry is developing guidelines that will change front panels of vending machines to feature non-carbonated beverages and healthy, active lifestyle images, and also will restrict promotional activity in elementary and middle schools.