The state Department of Education is asking state lawmakers to rescind the state law that allows sugary drinks to be sold in high schools. A legislative interim committee forwarded the draft legislation following a vote Tuesday.

Office of Nutrition Executive Director Rick Goff says there’s currently a state law on school drinks and a state DOE policy which follows federal guidelines. Goff says the law, approved in the 1990s, which allows soft drinks to be sold at high schools, has created confusion and should be rescinded.

“We’re seeking one policy and let it come from the state (school) board,” Goff said. “The state board has to correspond with federal policy. We wouldn’t have the third layer of confusion.”

The bill is the top priority of the West Virginia Healthy Lifestyles Coalition, but rescinding the law likely won’t be easy. The West Virginia Beverage Association made it known on Tuesday it supports the current set-up.

“It does not allow the soft drinks in elementary schools or middle schools but permits a certain caloric amount of soft drinks in high schools,” beverage association lobbyist Danielle Waltz-Swann told the legislative committee. “Those guidelines were put together by a large group of very qualified people that studied for years.”

Waltz-Swann says the beverage association wants to be part of the solution but believes soft drinks should continue in high schools.

“That was the best position to allow our students in high school who are old enough to make choices to prepare for the real world, where choices are in front of them, and help them to make healthy choices.

Goff says there’s nothing healthy about having soft drinks in high schools.

“There’s a time for soft drink consumption and schools need to be held at a different standard,” he said. “It’s so easy to do; a no brainer.”

Goff says the current state DOE policy follows federal guidelines established through the Institute of Medicine. Drinks allowed include water, 100-percent fruit or vegetable juice, skim or 1-percent low-fat milk (flavored or unflavored).

“The goal is to provide a safe and healthy learning environment,” Goff said.

The state law defines a healthy beverage as anything that has 20 percent real juice. It also deals with the revenue side of selling soft drinks allowing for faculty senates to make decisions about most of the profits.


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  • hillbilly

    What do soft drinks in school (voluntary) have to do with education? Schools need to worry about education, not someone's opinion of everyone's health. But on a larger scale, why does everything everyone does have to have a WV law behind it? This is one real issue, no one can try or change anything without a legislative change passed.

  • Shadow

    I think we should get rid of Mr. Goff. His misunderstanding of the Constitution is so apparent that it is appalling that he is in the government. Where is it in the Constitution that the DOE must comply with Federal Guidelines on schools and food? With folks like him in the government there is no wonder we are in the situation we find ourselves. It is clearly a State's Right issue, let the Legislature do it.

  • Big Ugly

    This will not work, the students in WV are smarter...They tried that in 99' when I was in High school, The first time I seen students at Scott High march straight out of school with a walkout....Its stupid because they replace them with juices that contain more sugar and calories than the soft drinks...

    • Shadow

      It is strange how the rule is to allow fruit juices which may have more sugar than the other drinks land tomato juice with its high sodium content. This rule is political, not logical based upon drink content. My biggest question is where do the students get all the money to spend on soft drinks? If this is to be controlled, let the parents do it in their own manner. Phooey on Washington and their rules.

  • Rita

    Seems to me there are more important things to take out of the school system than to worry about soft drinks...School lunches taste like crap, atleast let the kids have something good to drink...

  • Jim

    My comments will probably offend some but, why should the self discipline of most be punished for the gluttony of others?
    I mean it's about time for the parents to start taking responsibility for the poor decisions our seemingly misguided youth are making.
    Forget soft drinks and start talking about what has changed in last couple of generations in the school system and I believe that if you are really honest with yourselves, you'll agree that morals and self respect faded considerably with the elimination of corporal punishment ....I don't believe in abuse but when a kid needs discipline that should be in the form of "negative feedback ". Not time out.

  • johnny

    What a way to spend more tax dollars . I have more of a problem when my daughter was made to turn her shirt inside out because it had a female bowhunter in a tree stand with her bow. Who actually comes up with this stuff ?

  • GregG

    “The goal is to provide a safe and healthy learning environment,” Goff said. REALLY?! So banning a bottle of Coke is the ONLY THING you can come up with to make our schools more safe and healthy?

  • wvman75

    This is the "Mountain State", not the "Nanny State".

    Montani Semper Liberi.