Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The battle against CO2

In an attempt to look important but accomplish little, "The nation's largest beverage distributors have agreed to halt nearly all sales of sodas to public schools _ a step that will remove the sugary, caloric drinks from vending machines and cafeterias around the country." Or will it? The deal still allows juices (which have as much sugar in their unsweetened form as sodas already have) and sports drinks (where Coca-Cola owned PowerAde has about as much sugar in it as a regular cola and Gatorade has only slightly less sugar than that). At least those vending machines will look a whole lot healthier to the folks who don't bother reading nutrition facts. At least they showed that CO2 who's boss!

13 comments:

Patrick Armstrong said...

To hell with their rules. All Southern public schools should serve four drinks: lemonade, sweet tea, red kool aid and water.

petallic said...

Skippy, Pat. My school is 3 for 4! No red Kool Aid, but we do serve a couple different varieties of milk (plain, vanilla, skim, chocolate, strawberry, but no soy yet).

Dante said...

I'd be proud of any school that adopted the Pat drink policy. My elementary school in Texas was close with milk, water, Country Time, and Hawaiin Punch. I just get riled up when these companies start making nutrition decisions based on perception instead of fact. If you want to get down to facts, a ginger ale would be better for most of those kids than a sports drink. Since PE is all but forgotten in today's school system, those nutrients found in the sports drink will just flush right through their system with no effect whatsoever. At least the ginger ale would have less sugar and sodium (as long as it's not Schweppes which recently upped their sugar content and tastes like poo now because of it).

patsbrother said...

Dante, you assume kids will buy Powerade at the same levels they currently buy soft drinks, which account for 45% of the sheebang. Many, I assume, will either stop buying altogether, or go for the juice, water or milk. Which is a good thing. Yes, unsweetened juices have a lot of calories, but they also have vitamins no soft drink can purport to contain. Ooo, not all sugars are taken out of the vending machines. Is that really cause to complain?

Dante said...

It is a cause to complain when your stated claim is to reduce sugary and caloric drinks from vending machines. If their stated claim was to increase vitamin intake or decrease caffeine intake, I would completely understand but that's not the stated goal.

Are the kids better off? Maybe. They are at least cutting down on caffeine and increasing their vitamin intake. However, most of the popular juice choices (orange, apple, grape) only provide Vitamin C in any meaningful quantity. Vitamin C is not a vitamin people are having a hard time getting enough of elsewhere in their diets. Much like the nutrients in sports drinks, all that Vitamin C is going to go in one end and right out the other.

This whole issue smacks of appearence over substance. It looks to me like the soft drink distributors and schools are (and have been for a while) under pressure to get sugary drinks out of those schools. Instead of doing something about the issue, they are pretending to do something noble when they have really doing not much at all.

petallic said...

Well, let me add another layer to this conundrum. My school currently pulls in anywhere from $5,000-10,000 a month from just "Coke money." That money goes directly into our school. We are able to afford sundry niceties that we would otherwise not.

Dante said...

Petallic has been very kind to make explicit the real reason schools drag their feet at talks of removing soft drinks from their schools. They do use the money made from those vending machines. I'm sure my daily purchase of BBQ Tom's Fritos-lookalikes and apple juice (never have been a big fan of sodas myself) funded something semi-useful at my high school. The school would be fine if the students had to make a sacrifice for the students' health but when it comes to the school making a sacrifice for the students' health, there's a problem. I imagine there would still be smoking areas in high schools for those 18 and over if the schools made a cut of the cigarette money.

petallic said...

Absolutely, Dante. My school was in debt over $200,000 when we arrived four years ago. We are now better than debt-free. It's a hell of an example of the ends justifying the means.

Patrick Armstrong said...

You know, I'd bet kids would pay just as much into vending machines for V8 and Minute Maid as they would for Coca-Cola. The absence of personal refrigerators on campus kinda dictates that the vending machines have a monopoly. (Then again, with cross-dressing and cellphones allowed in school these days, I wonder when that last line will be crossed).

I have no problem with the kids paying into their own education. But why do we have to sell out to McDonalds and Coca-Cola along the way? You know what could make waay more money for schools than vending machines?

Parking decals.

Or, we can save money by giving up on school cafeterias completely. Let 'em bring their own lunches their own damn selves or let them go for a lunch break.

dadvocate said...

Never thought of this before, but CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Maybe this will help slow global warming.

petallic said...

Pat, don't ever quit your day job to become a drug dealer. You'd never make it.

You honestly think you'll make more money on a one-time fee for a parking decal than on vending machines? Like any good drug dealer (or businessman) knows, you gotta hit people on the COMEBACK. Parking decals have no comeback unless you're charging per week or something. Cokes are everyday, several times a day for some people.

As to your first assertion, however, that kids will pay for juice, yes, completely, we are in agreement. We actually do have six Minute Maid machines here in the school, and the kids drink far more juice than they do Cokes (although this may have something to do with African-American culture; many of them think carbonated beverages lead to skin spots). We also have as many water machines as we do Coke machines. We sell less Cokes than anything else. The problem, as Dante pointed out in the opening post, is that PowerAde and other tripe such as that is not healthy, but consumers have been misled into thinking they are.

I'm not sure why you mentioned McDonald's, but I'm sure you had your reasons; perhaps you heard of some school somewhere that had a McDonald's inside. I've heard of these schools, but I've never actually seen one.

As to your last assertion that kids bring their own lunches, it will never happen, and I pray to God it never does (at least in my area). Poverty rates are too high to be denying kids the only two meals they get during the day. I've worked in two counties in Georgia. In the first one, so many of our students qualified for free lunch that the state just put the whole school on free lunch; less paperwork that way. In this county, the kids are a bit better off, but we still have plenty of kids who have no food in what passes for their homes. The day we do away with school lunches, a large portion of our students will become even more malnourished than they already are. We may be a capitalist country, but we're not heartless.

S.A.W.B. said...

"We may be a capitalist country, but we're not heartless."

Speak for yourself...

Granted, I'm not against free/reduced lunch, except for the fact that most of the kids I knew on free/reduced lunch dressed a hell of a lot nicer than I ever did. Must have been the lottery ticket winnings...

Dante said...

Do away with school lunches?

When public schools were first established in Britain during the industrial revolution, labor laws had just forced parents to stop sending their kids to work at factories. Since their kids were no longer contributing financially to the family, many families seriously neglected them. Those parents didn't give a rat's rump what their kids were learning in school. Those kids were headed off to a factory as to work as soon as they were old enough anyways. The parents supported public schools because it gave their kids somewhere to go to during the day and more importantly it took the burden of feeding those kids off of the parents. Many of these parents were pawning their church clothes weekly to get enough money to buy food in the first place.

Historically speaking, the biggest reason we have schools is because of school lunches. It'd be kind of odd to remove that.