Senate Passes Turner Bill To Ban Junk Food In Schools

TRENTON – The Senate today approved a bill, sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner, which she says is designed to “Stop sugar-coating the nutritional needs of our schoolchildren.”

The measure, S-1218, would ban the sale or donation of soda, gum and most candy as well as food listing sugar as a first ingredient on school grounds before the end of the school day. It passed 33-0 and was forwarded to the Assembly.

“This bill requires a change in the culture of school children who are getting a sugar high instead of good nutrition,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer, and Chair of the Senate Education Committee. “Obesity in children is a national problem and we can start fighting it by removing the temptations of junk foods during the school day.”

The bill would codify State regulations adopted last year and set to be implemented for the start of the school year in September of 2007. The rules will force schools to reduce the purchase of foods containing trans fats and would ban foods defined as having “minimal nutritional value.”

All snack and beverage items sold during the school day in cafeterias and vending machines could contain no more than 8 grams of fat per saving. Elementary schools would have to serve beverages of milk, water or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice.

“I don’t think children have to give up candy altogether, but they shouldn’t be loading up on sugar products to the neglect of good nutrition,” Senator Turner said. “The rules and this bill won’t force the various school groups to give up their candy sale fundraisers because the restrictions would only apply during school hours.”

Senator Turner said the time alotted before the 2007 school year kicks in will give both students and school administrators to devise healthy substitutes for junk food.