Re-2 upholds ban on diet sodas in high schools |

Re-2 upholds ban on diet sodas in high schools

Ryan Hoffman

The Colorado State Board of Education last month repealed a state ban on the sale of diet sodas in public high schools, but do not expect to see those soft drinks at Rifle or Coal Ridge high schools.

The Garfield School District Re-2 Board of Education Tuesday opted not to revise the district’s nutritious food policies or its vending machine policies, effectively maintaining the current ban.

The discussion was in response to the state board’s decision in September to revise its healthy beverage policy in order to allow for more local control over the types of beverages sold at public high schools.

The change, according to the Colorado Department of Education, does not alter an existing restriction on the availability of unhealthy beverages during after-school activities for all grade levels, and it continues to prohibit the sale of beverages other than healthier options, such as 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices, at middle and elementary schools.

However, federal nutrition standards released in 2013 provided additional guidelines and, in some instances, Colorado’s policies proved to be more stringent than federal policies, including the state’s prohibition on selling diet soda in high schools.

The decision by the state board was framed as one intended to streamline regulations while putting control in the hands of local districts.

Much like at the state level, some locals voiced concern about the possibility of allowing diet sodas, regarded as unhealthy beverages, back into local high schools, Anne Guettler, Re-2 board president, said.

The district’s current policy states each beverage sold should satisfy the minimum nutritional standards for beverages adopted by the state. The district also maintains a list of acceptable items to be sold in vending machines.

There were no objections to keeping the ban on diet sodas, but board member Brock Hedberg shared his personal feeling that, most of the time, he takes issue with the government saying what people can and cannot drink.

There was general agreement among board members that they would revisit the district’s policy if the public raised an issue.

The state’s new rules will go into effect on or before the 2017-18 school year, according to CDE, to allow for flexibility in implementation.

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