NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Soft Drinks, Hard Cash

March 1, 2004

Machines selling snacks and soft drinks in school are a concern of a panel that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush appointed to fight obesity. The task force recommends that schools find better ways to raise money, but is it wise to remove candy and soft drink machines, asks the Tampa Tribune?

The funds schools receive from sales of the fattening products cannot be easily replaced in these times of tight budgets:

  • Last year, the Hillsborough County School Board made a deal worth about $50 million with Pepsi.
  • The company gets exclusive rights to sell and promote its soft drinks in public schools for 12 years.
  • Each school gets annual payments from Pepsi, and that money is sorely needed.

School board members decided that the benefits outweighed the costs. They understand that childhood obesity is a complex issue that cannot be solved by a single strategy. Eating a balanced diet and choosing an active lifestyle work together to keep a person trim. No one food or beverage deserves all the blame.

Lawmakers thinking about banning soft drinks in schools ought not overlook the scholarships and educational grants that beverage companies are making to schools across the country, says the Tribune.

Also, through the income generated through the sale of beverages, schools can purchase physical education equipment or pay for after-school activities and other programs. Many academic and physical education programs would disappear without this money, says the Tribune.

Source: Editorial, "Soft Drinks Sold In Schools Not Big Cause Of Fat Students," Tampa Tribune, March 1, 2004.


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