School board will discuss healthy food options

Thursday, July 8, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:13 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

A change for good food hasn’t been good for the bottom line at Columbia middle schools.

The Columbia School Board will hear a report on vending machines in schools at its retreat Friday. The meeting will be at 8:30 a.m. in the administration building, 1818 W. Worley St., and is open to the public but not for public comment.

Jacque Cowherd, deputy superintendent, will give a report on snacks, beverages and the number of vending machines that were available to middle school students during the 2003-04 school year.

When the board met in July 2003, Cowherd gave the board recommendations on what changes should be made to the snack machines. According to the meeting’s minutes, the board decided without a formal vote to institute new criteria for vending machine products and also requested a report that showed the “revenue generation and client satisfaction” after the changes.

The criteria stated that products must have no more than three grams of fat and one gram or less of saturated fat per serving as well as provide at least 10 percent daily value for vitamins A and C as well as calcium and iron.

According to Superintendent Phyllis Chase, Gentry Middle School had one beverage machine that carried only water and juice and made $41 in 2003-04 — down from four machines that had soft drinks, Gatorade and snack foods, which made $576 in 2002-03. Smithton Middle School had four machines in 2002-03 that offered soft drinks and Lance snack foods and made $1,430.60. The following year, the school originally had two machines that contained Lance products, water and juice and made $475.42. In March two machines were added because the school is a site for the Show-Me State Games.

The use of profits from the vending machines is determined by the principals at each school. J.C. Headley, school board president, said funds have been used to defray the costs of field trips for students who qualify for the free lunch program.

Chris Mallory, assistant superintendent for secondary education, said the lower revenues from the snack machines shows students did not prefer the new choices.

Patricia Brooks, director of food services, is working with parents and community members in the health profession to make positive changes to snack options for students, Headley said.

At the last board meeting in June, the board heard public comment from nine members of the Good Food in School Coalition. The group of community members is requesting that all junk food be removed from Columbia Public Schools and replaced with healthy options.

“We hope the board will begin taking an active role in educating parents, teachers, administrators and children as to the life and health threatening effects of obesity and will take a firm action toward totally eliminating junk food from Columbia public schools at all levels,” said Kent Green, a local businessman and a spokesperson for the coalition.

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