Students Scoff At Soft Drink Ban

At high schools across the coast, students can buy soft drinks throughout the day except at lunch. Federal law doesn't allow vending machine sales during the school lunch period, but at Harrison Central High that doesn't stop students from sipping their favorite sodas with lunch.

Student Alexis Gardner says, "Look at everybody walking around drinking cold drinks. It defeats the purpose. If you don't want us to drink them during lunch, why have the vending machines where we can buy them?"

At lunch, the kids have a choice of only milk, water or juice, so they buy their drinks before lunch. The students say they, not someone else, should decide what to drink.

Michael Duckworth says, "We're still gonna drink soft drinks no matter what. If not, we'll just stop by the store on the way to school and get a drink. They can't stop us."

"Sometimes in the morning, like, somebody won't be able to have breakfast and they'll just go to the drink machine. And sometimes it helps wake people up," says Melissa Tatum.

Student Shelley Lavender says, "Not everybody likes water or milk and it should be our personal choice. I think we should have them."

Most of the students heard the news about Los Angeles schools getting rid of their drink machines for health reasons, and some students don't buy it.

"I mean look at the school lunch. Hey, come on, it's greasy, that greasy pizza, the french fries. Is that low fat? I mean everybody's not going to get a salad," says Gardner.

Students say it will take more than banning soft drinks from campus to fight fat. Administrators say they haven't heard any health concerns from parents about the drink machines.

Money from vending machine sales are distributed among the schools in each district, and it can really add up. For example, the Harrison County School District collects about $116,000 twice a year from the machines.