The Colorado Department of Education unanimously passed a proposal last week that bans the sale of soft drinks in public school and restricts the calorie and fat content of all other beverages, including milk. Effective July 1, 2009, the new standard states that the only beverages allowed will be lowfat milk, water and fruit juices in elementary and middle schools. High schools received an exemption to serve low-calorie sport drinks as well.
The new rule limits milk served in all public schools to lowfat and 150 calories per eight-ounce serving. Juice drinks must be 100 percent juice, contain no artificial sweetener and have no more than 120 calories per eight-ounce serving. Although high schools will be allowed to serve beverages other than milk, water or juice, the alternate beverages will be limited to 66 calories per eight ounces. Also, 50 percent of the non-milk beverages offered must be either water or other low-calorie or zero-calorie options.
The department took the action in response to legislation passed earlier in the year by state lawmakers, which required the department to "promulgate rules describing beverages that may be sold to students." The subsequent proposal, first introduced November 10, was adopted unanimously by the Colorado State Board of Education, with the addition of two amendments: Schools must ban the sale of all diet and regular soft drinks and purchase beverages produced in Colorado whenever possible.
Acceptable beverage container sizes were also set in the rule. Elementary schools may serve beverages in containers holding up to eight ounces, while middle schools may serve single containers of beverages up to 10 ounces in size. High schools are allowed to sell beverages in 12-ounce containers. If a middle school and high school share a common area, the school may serve the larger size beverage to middle school students.
"This is indication that there is strong interest at the state level to consider nutrition standards in schools," said Ruth Saunders, IDFA senior director of policy and legislative affairs.
In comments filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in October, IDFA focused attention on the importance of including lowfat and fat-free milk and other reduced-fat dairy products in federal feeding programs to improve the overall nutritional value of school meals and snacks.
Members with questions about this new rule may contact Will Telligman, IDFA coordinator of legislative affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-220-3528.