LEARN logo


Because People Matter
D-Light Full Vitamin Saves Lives, Billions

Success Stories
Appleton Kids
Aptos Middle School
Aptos Middle School
Food Is Elementary
NPR on Junk Food
Profitable Vending
NY City Schools
Kraft Reducing Fat
Crime Times
Junk Food Wars
Food Fights Crime

General Nutrition Articles
Junk Food Junkies
Mayo Clinic
Obesity From School Lunch
When a Crop Becomes King
Food Pyramid <br/ > IQ & Crime
Stop School Killings

Omega-3 Articles
Letter to Students
A Key Nutrient
Texas Fish Oil
Flax Does So Much
Four 'Smart Fat' Steps
Foods and Ratios
BBC - Food & Reading
Miracle in Appleton
Update on Appleton
Higher IQ
Flax Power
Sardine Snacks
A Good Fat

Trans Fats Hurt Kids
Book on Trans Fats
Avoid Hydrogenated
Trans Fats on Food Labels
Politics of Fat

Soda Overview
Venice High School
No Sodas in Venice
Fighting the Fizz
Seattle & Arizona


Vitamin D Articles
D-Light Full Vitamin Saves Lives, Billions
Benefits of Vitamin D

Sickle Cell Articles

About Us


Savoring a sweet victory
California Educator, November 2002

Fast food at Venice High is slowly becoming a part of the past. Sodas have fizzled out of the school's vending machine and been replaced by bottled water, sports drinks, juices and other healthy drinks. Candy, no longer dandy, has also been eliminated from machines.

Some students say they have gone into shock for lack of sugar. "One day they just took everything out," moans Sara Lopez, munching on SourPunch candy brought from home. "I'm very angry, because it should be my decision whether to eat healthy or not."

"They shouldn't take away our soda and junk food," asserts Christine Poblete. "If we want to get fat, it should be our choice."

Meanwhile, the students who lobbied to banish soda and candy from the school's vending machines are savoring their victory. "I feel happy that we won," says Pedro De Leon, a member of Students for Public Health and Advocacy. "Before, all we could buy was soda and candy in the machines."

The war on junk food is now reaching the cafeteria, which will soon offer students a fruit and vegetable bar along with a deli bar where students can make their own sandwiches. These offerings will hopefully entice students away from the more fattening, cholesterol-laden foods sold la carte, such as pizza, nachos, burgers and french fries. The student store will soon sell baked chips, granola bars, carob candy and other healthy alternatives.

"The campus seems calmer," observes Jacqueline Domac, the Health Department chair who helped students bring about the soda and candy sales ban. "When I congratulated the dean on the fact that there were fewer disciplinary problems this year, he said it went hand in hand with what we were doing nutritionally. I didn't understand it at first, but then it hit me. There is less of a sugar buzz among students. You can really feel it."

Venice High School, located a few miles from the famous beach, is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District, whose board of education recently voted to ban the sale of sodas in all 677 schools. The district-wide ban, which goes into full effect by January 2004, could cost schools that have exclusivity contracts with soda companies thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Venice High has already put the new policy into place, having received a grant to serve as a pilot school with a soda and candy sales ban. The pilot project is the only surviving portion of a bill by Sen. Martha Escutia that would have banned the sale of soda and junk food on all of the state's campuses.

The drive to offer students healthier food at Venice High School started two years ago, when several of Domac's students asked her if the vending machines could sell juice in addition to soda. Domac, a member of United Teachers Los Angeles, asked an administrator if it were possible. She was told that selling juice would conflict with the school's soda contract. As a health instructor who teaches students about the dangers of poor nutrition, she was shocked to hear that money from Coca-Cola was more important than giving students a healthy choice of beverages.

"Coke, which can be used to clean toilets and car batteries and will dissolve a tooth within three days, should be stored under the sink-- not in our students' bodies," says Domac.

Students signed petitions, and Coca-Cola finally agreed to put juice beverages into the school's vending machines. However, only four beverage slots out of 200 were reserved for juice, which was far too little to meet student demand. In September, the school gave Coca-Cola the boot. Ironically, it is Pepsi that is now stocking the school's vending machines with a variety of fruit juices, water and other healthy drinks the company manufactures.

The decision to ban soda and candy sales throughout the district was unanimously approved by the LAUSD Board of Education in August. The district followed in the footsteps of the Oakland Unified School District, which enacted a soda and candy ban last February.

"This was a grassroots effort," says Domac. "Parents, community organizers and students created this change. We won because the soda industry had no idea what was going on. We had been doing groundwork for months with intense lobbying, gathering facts and rallying community members. The soda industry only found out what was going on three days before the vote and could not mobilize fast enough. Had they known, we would have had a much slimmer chance of this passing."

Not everyone is happy about the changes at Venice High. Some teachers and students worry that clubs won't be able to raise adequate money without candy and soda sales to fund activities. Ironically, selling junk food via fundraisers is usually done to promote healthy activities such as sports or camping trips.

"We've gotten a lot of argument from people," says Jennifer Tichman, one of the students heading the effort to ban soda and candy. "But our Voice Club sold corn nuts and granola mix and made lots of money."

A UTLA poll of its teacher members showed 60 percent in favor of the ban, 29 percent against it, and 10 percent partially in favor.

Some students say that the intention was originally to give Venice High students a choice, but students who want sodas are now left out in the cold. Others maintain that since schools emphasize good eating habits in health curriculum, it is hypocritical of schools to surround students with unhealthy foods. Domac points out that students are welcome to bring sodas and candy from home if they so desire, although few students do.

Venice High School has received worldwide attention for its bold move. Journalists from other states as well as Japan and France interviewed Domac, and a public television station recently filmed a

"I believe we're on the crest of a wave," says Domac. "We're going to see a huge change in lots of schools now. This is only the beginning."


Lauren Ayers

James Curiel, PhD
Professor, Sociology

Don Glines
Educational Futures

Hasan Hanks

Jeanie Keltner, PhD
Editor, Because People Matter

Michael J. Kwiker, D.O.

William Mora, M.D.
Health Associates Medical Group

Susan Montoya

Cynthia Mulcaire

Carlina Nowrocki

Robert O’Brien, MA

Suiying Saechao
Member LEAF at Hiram Johnson HS

Charity Smith
President Youth Congress at Sac High