August 18, 2012

Do we have to fund our schools with soda contracts?

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In these tough economic times, schools have resorted to contracts with soda companies to add to their budgets. In fact, 80% of public high schools have contracts with either Coke or Pepsi to sell their products on vending machines on campus.  

Mother Jones reports:

Starting in the early '90s, cash-strapped public schools began selling exclusive "pouring rights" to one or another Big Soda company, which would then supply all the beverages sold in on-site snack bars, stores, and soda machines as well as at sports events. Along with sugary drinks, of course, the companies also stuffed the schools with plenty of advertisements... The soda deals subsidize other aspects of schooling, too. Here's how the Rockford Register Star describes a contract between the Rockford, Illinois school district and Coca-Cola:

Under the existing 10-year contract, Coca-Cola paid the district $4 million upfront and an additional $350,000 a year to sell its beverages in schools. The annual payments have funded field trips, gym uniforms, SMART Boards and other frills that individual school budgets may not otherwise have afforded.

I don't know if our local public high school has such a contract, and I wonder if such contracts prohibit schools from promoting anti-junk food education? 

My children would not be tempted by such vending machines, but they are not the norm. With obesity rates on the rise, it is irresponsible to be underfunding our schools to the point that they need soda companies. What's next? Tobacco advertising?

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Posted by Jennifer Lance at August 18, 2012 10:47 AM

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