By Kathy Walsh
DENVER (CBS4) – Diet soda could make a comeback in Colorado public high schools. On Wednesday, the Colorado Board of Education debated bringing the beverage back.
The issue was on the agenda with the idea of aligning state rules with new federal regulations. While some members said allowing diet soda is going backwards, others argued parents don’t want schools to be their child’s nanny.
For seven years now, you haven’t been able to snag a soda in a Colorado public school. State healthy beverage standards enacted in 2009 did not allow pop, not even diet.
“This is a healthy beverage policy. Diet soda is not a healthy beverage and does not belong in our schools,” said Leslie Levine, Technical Assistance and Research Manager with LiveWell Colorado.
That’s been the thinking. But on Wednesday, the State Board of Education took up a proposal to lift the ban on diet soda to align with new federal rules on nutrition standards released last month.
Audio from the meeting in Grand Junction was broadcast on the board’s website.
“I believe parents expect us to do what we can to protect kids,” testified board member Angelika Schroeder, a Democrat representing Boulder.
“I know a lot of parents that are tired of schools dictating what their children eat, see, learn,” countered board member Pam Mazanec, a Republican representing Larkspur.
The vote was 4-3 in favor of bringing back diet soda in high schools.
“We’re disappointed that the board of education made that decision, but we have strong relationships with communities and school districts across the state and we’ll be able to help those school districts pass stronger polices that keep diet soda out of schools,” said Levine.
That is possible. Local school districts in Colorado can pass their own, more restrictive beverage rules.
To pass after a public hearing, the vote needed to be unanimous. Because it was 4-3, another vote will be taken at the September board meeting where we’ll learn if diet soda makes a comeback in Colorado high schools or fizzles.