Salt Lake City, ABC 4 News) - The vending machines are unplugged at a Utah high school after a violation of federal lunch rules. Davis High School was fined $15-thousand dollars for selling carbonated beverages during the lunch hour.
Vending machines in the hallways at Davis High School normally sell carbonated beverages and candy, but to receive federal nutrition funding, they can't sell it during lunch. Students say it doesn't make sense.
"Everyone goes out to lunch anyways and drinks them so it's pretty dumb."
District officials say the policy can be confusing too. Chris Williams, the Davis School District Spokesperson, says there are definite rules about how, and when carbonated beverages can be sold. “It is challenging when you can buy a Coke before lunch, and consume it during lunch, but you can't buy a coke during lunch."
It's not just soda sales that are a problem; candy can be too, depending on what kind it is. Davis High School’s Principal, Dee Burton, says Snicker Bars are considered nutritional and legal, but other candy is not. "We are not allowed to sell anything that is carbonated or any candy that sticks to your teeth”
Absolutely no candy or soda machines are allowed in a cafeteria area. Principal Burton says inspectors determined that because students take their lunches into the hallway, the entire school is considered a cafeteria. “They can't fit in the cafeteria so they come out into the hallways, and because they come out into the hallways, it makes are entire a school a cafeteria; which means the pop machines and the candy machines we have cannot be on."
Inspectors also found soda being sold in the bookstore. That discovery led to thousands of dollars in fines. Burton says the money had to come out of the regular school budget. "The big loser is the student"
Profits from soda and candy machines is used to fund music, drama, and student recognition programs, so Burton says the kids lose twice over. Students say they also lose freedom of choice. “It’s our decision if we want to have a soda or not, and I think that we should be left with that decision and not have it taken away."
The Davis School District says it understands the Federal Government wants to raise a more healthy generation. It has also come up with a compatible health initiative. Meanwhile, Davis High is working to replace soda, and banned candy, with non-carbonated beverages, and fruit.
There are also plans at Davis High to put soda and candy vending machines in a converted janitor’s closet, with a door, to comply with federal guidelines.