Las Vegas Sun

January 24, 2022

Currently: 55° — Complete forecast

Board moves to trash junk food on campus

Selling candy bars, potato chips and sugary sodas could soon be forbidden on Clark County School District campuses.

The Clark County School Board voted unanimously Thursday to pursue a ban on junk food in campus vending machines and student stores. The required second vote on the proposed regulation will take place June 14.

"It's time to do something about the health and well-being of our children," said Clark County School Board member Denise Brodsky. "We have to lead by example."

Agustin Orci, deputy superintendent of instruction, told board members the regulation was drafted after lawmakers suggested during the last legislative session that they would take steps to set junk food limits unless local districts did it themselves first.

School Board President Susan Brager-Wellman voted in favor of the ban but said she did so with reservations. Brager-Wellman said she would prefer to see the ban limited to the district's elementary and middle schools and let high schoolers decide for themselves what to eat.

"We tell them to make grown-up decisions and be responsible but then we say we aren't sure if they can have a cookie," Brager-Wellman said.

The School Board heard from several vendors during the public comment portion of Thursday's meeting, including a representative of Pepsi, who made an impassioned sales pitch for her company's line of healthier snacks and drinks.

Las Vegan Peggy Hasselbalch, whose company, Legacy Ice Cream, provides products to about 80 percent of the district's 289 campuses, said her bottom line would take "a serious hit" if the ban moves forward. More importantly, schools would no longer have funds for extra activities and supplies, Hasselbalch said.

If soda is banned on campuses and candy bars replaced with healthier options, the $40,000 a year that Coronado receives from sales and bonuses from the vending companies will likely drop by 20 to 30 percent, said Principal Monte Bay. Student activities that use candy and food sales for fund-raising are also expected to take a hit, Bay said.

"The choir alone raised $1,000 last year selling candy," Bay said. "That's money for extras like festivals and concerts that we can't pay for otherwise."

But the potential health benefits for students outweigh any monetary losses, Bay said.

"We can say the kids are going to go to the 7-Eleven and eat junk anyway, but that doesn't mean we have to provide it," Bay said. "Teachers have always complained that kids are hyped up right after lunch and then crash at the end of the day. That's what a lot of sugar can do to you.'

The proposed regulation would ban items such as frozen ices, which are a good source of hydration, particularly at year-round schools facing hot summer months, Hasselbalch argued.

"There should be some common-sense exceptions made here," Hasselbalch said.

At Coronado High School Thursday, the lunchtime crowd dined on corn dogs and french fries. Students also rushed to buy chips, sodas and candy bars from the student store and vending machines.

In the school's courtyard, sophomore Sarah Wilson and several friends shared their usual lunch -- a bag of Doritos and Starburst candies.

Wilson said she wouldn't mind seeing nachos traded for nonfat yogurt and the greasy fries swapped for granola bars.

"I only eat badly at school," Wilson said. "The rest of the time I'm pretty good."

Coronado senior Garron Combs, behind the counter Thursday at the student store stocked with candy, soda and Subway sandwiches, said he didn't believe the proposed limits would hurt sales in the long run.

"If healthy stuff is all we have, that's what kids are gonna buy," Combs said. "

The proposed nutritional requirements include:

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy