Removing Soda and Junk Food from California Schools
PHAdvocates Lead Movement to Remove Junk Food & Sodas from Schools
With childhood obesity rates skyrocketing, from 1999-2005 we led the campaign in California to prohibit the sale of soda and junk food in schools. Our work helped launch a national movement, culminating with Michelle Obama championing healthier school food throughout the country.
Data and Research
Our study found 40% of California children were overweight or obese, with the highest rates in communities of color. The epidemic was found in every state legislative district.
Our efforts attracted massive media coverage about the growing childhood obesity epidemic, including calls from spokespeople throughout the state to remove soda and junk food from schools.
We helped rally support from parents, teachers, and students throughout the state who were upset that schools were contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic. As local school districts began enacting their own nutrition standards, local progress built statewide momentum.
We rallied support from hundreds of health and social justice organizations, parents, schools, insurance companies, and unions from all over California.
Our widely circulated fact sheets showcased childhood obesity rates for each state legislative district. Constituents used them when visited, called, and wrote letters holding their representatives accountable for getting schools out of the soda and junk food business.
Over a six year period (1999-2006), our efforts led to enactment of a series of four major pieces of state legislation:
- Define and pilot test the nation's first school nutrition standards (SB 19, 2001).
- Ban the sale of sugary drinks in elementary and middle schools (SB 677, 2003).
- Ban the sale of sugary drinks in high schools (SB 965, 2005).
- Ban the sale of junk food in K-12 schools (SB 12, 2005).
Success in California encouraged dozens of other states to replicate our model.
Michelle Obama championed the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, establishing nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold in schools nationwide.
California Center for Public Health Advocacy, August 2005Download
California Center for Public Health Advocacy, 2004Download
California Center for Public Health Advocacy, December 2002Download
California Center for Public Health Advocacy, March 2002
National Consensus Panel on School Nutrition: Recommendations for Competitive Food Standards in California SchoolsDownload
Detailed case study is in progress. Check back soon to explore further.