Moffat County High School students can still buy a soda pop at school, but they'll soon have a better chance of finding something healthy to drink.
The Moffat County School District Board of Education voted 4-1 on Thursday night to continue offering soda pop at the high school --as long as it makes up only 20 percent of the beverage options available to students. Forty percent of students' choices must be healthy drinks such as fruit juice and Gatorade, and the other 20 percent can fall into the "better than pop" category, which includes tea and Tropicana juices, the board said.
The board's decision comes as state officials are pressuring school districts to provide healthier food and beverage options to students as childhood obesity is on the rise.
Now, pop makes up 31 percent of the beverages offered, and healthful choices make up 57 percent.
The high school's three-year contract to provide only Pepsi had expired, giving rise to a discussion similar to that held when Pepsi first approached the school district offering to pay for the right to be the school's exclusive beverage provider.
The contract generates $30,000 to $40,000 for the athletics department. The department has used the money to buy wrestling mats, soccer uniforms and other items not covered by the district's $54,500 athletics budget.
But the district must consider the mixed message it sends when it urges students to make healthy choices, while providing unhealthy drinks for profit, board member Rod Durham said.
Although he supported the idea of an exclusive contract, Durham voted against allowing it to include the sale of pop. He advocated allowing Pepsi to sell only healthy beverages and was the sole dissenting board member.
"Kids can get pop anyway. I don't know that they need to get it from us," he said.
Superintendent Pete Berg--mann said high school staff members were divided on the issue. But the school's activity committee was in favor of allowing pop sales, as were student council members.
Students asked to have a choice. But more students would choose a health drink if it didn't cost 25 cents more than pop, they said.
The board's decision Thursday also called for equal pricing and required administrators to put the contract out for bid, giving other companies the opportunity to be the high school's sole beverage provider.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.