State board lifts ban on diet soda in high schools
Local school districts can choose to implement stricter policies
The State Board of Education today approved an effort to realign Colorado’s Healthy Beverages Policy with federal rules, a move that gives local school districts more control over what types of beverages can be sold at high schools.
The revised Healthy Beverages Policy will continue to restrict the availability of unhealthy beverages during after-school activities for all grade levels, and it continues to prohibit the sale of beverages other than milk, 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices, and water at middle and elementary schools.
In 2013, USDA released Smart Snacks in Schools, which are science-based nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages sold to children during the school day. Since then, Colorado districts have been required to adhere to 10 federal regulations and 11 state regulations for the sale of beverages. The state rules included more restrictive requirements and specifically prohibited diet soda sales in high schools.
“Districts said the complexity of following two different sets of rules created a regulatory burden and was a source of confusion,” said Board Chairman Steve Durham. “This change will streamline the rules, and at the same time put control over the issue where it belongs – in the hands of local school districts.”
The board voted 4-3 to approve the revised policy, with members Pam Mazanec, Deborah Scheffel and Joyce Rankin voting for the revised rules along with Durham. Vice Chairwoman Angelika Schroeder and members Jane Goff and Val Flores opposed the change.
“Parents expect us to do what we can to protect kids,” Schroeder said. “I’m opposed to increasing access to beverages that we know are unhealthy and potentially harmful to growing children.”
The new rules will go into effect on or before the 2017-2018 School Year to allow districts some flexibility in implementation.