SAN FRANCISCO students will soon say goodbye to snack bar lunches
consisting of nachos or colossal hamburgers washed down with Cokes in bucket-
When school opens this week, San Francisco will begin implementing arguably
the healthiest food regimen of any school district in the nation.
Oakland has already junked soda sales in its schools, as has Berkeley.
Together, the districts are putting the Bay Area at the forefront of the
battle against childhood obesity. That's where the Bay Area should be. The
healthier "California cuisine" pioneered here shouldn't only be the province
of patrons of upscale restaurants. A school-based version is long overdue.
These districts have wisely decided that schools should be teaching kids
healthy eating habits, not endangering their health by feeding them products
of little or no nutritional value.
Eliminating calorie-laden foods from our schools won't solve the problem of
childhood obesity. But it is a good place to start.
In the face of the district's own predictions that the new policies could
cost the district as much as $200,000, we commend Superintendent Arlene
Ackerman and her staff for working to implement the healthy foods resolution
passed by the school board last February. "We are moving ahead on all fronts,"
Lorna Ho, a special assistant to Ackerman, told us.
In snack bar lines known as beaneries, students will be able to buy fresh
deli sandwiches, soups, salads and sushi. Food portions themselves will be
downsized. All foods will have to exceed the federal government's "food of
minimal nutritional value" standard.
These are all positive changes. We're disappointed the district is moving
more cautiously to eliminate junk foods from vending machines located outside
school cafeterias. Beginning next January, the machines will be emptied of
sodas. And candy bars will be replaced with snacks such as Nutri-grain fruit
bars, Rice Krispie treats and sunflower seeds.
Fundraising sales of old-time favorites like Hershey bars, See's candy, and
Slim Jims will also be banned beginning next year.
Now that that the district has embarked on an ambitous path toward student
health, we urge administrators -- and parents -- to take on the problem of
vending machines and fund-raising sales immediately.
The pioneering food program is the result of pressure brought by a
determined group of parents, and builds on a successful pilot project at Aptos
Middle School. Aptos showed that kids won't starve when offered nutritious
foods, and that schools can actually make more money doing so.
Some students will grouse about having to eat string cheese instead of
Snickers bars. But we trust school officials, parents and students will work
to overcome whatever obstacles may come up. Now it is up to other school
districts to follow Oakland and San Francisco's lead.
What You Can Do
If you are a San Francisco parent or student, urge your school principal to
implement the new guidelines immediately. Call the district at (415) 241-6565
to get a copy.
If you live outside San Francisco and want your local school to provide
healthier foods, encourage school board members to adopt a policy similar to
San Francisco's lead.