As the students get ready to leave their schools for the summer, it doesn't mean that those buildings are going to lie dormant for two months or so. They actually become relatively busy places, as everything from lockers, classrooms, floors, desks, cafeterias and roofs undergo repairs, upgrades or touch-ups.
There's usually a great deal of change going on in schools during the summer time.
For the third straight summer, one of the changes that will take place in schools is to the beverage mix available to students. In May 2006, the American Beverage Association developed national School Beverage Guidelines with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation - a joint initiative of the William J. Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association. Our industry agreed to the goal of implementing these guidelines by the 2009-2010 school year.
The guidelines change the beverage mix by capping calories, reducing portion sizes and removing full-calorie soft drinks. This means there is only water, low-fat and non-fat milk and portion-controlled 100 percent juice with no added sweeteners in elementary and middle schools, with the addition of non-diet soft drinks, low-calorie teas and portion-controlled sports drinks and waters in high schools.
A sound common-sense initiative that helps reinforce with students the need to balance the calories they consume with the calories they burn through exercise - an equation they are learning in school.
Well, as you might imagine, a lot of the change in this beverage mix takes place during the summer months - when the work causes less disruption to the school. After all, these changes come at a cost to industry, millions of dollars worth of changes in fact, including retrofitting vending machines to accommodate the smaller portion sizes, developing the smaller portion-size containers, changing production and delivery capabilities and more.
But it's done all for the right reasons. The beverage industry stepped up to make these changes to do its part to address a very complex problem of overweight and obesity - a problem that is going to take many solutions and a comprehensive approach.
So when it comes to improving health care, the beverage industry is by no means on the sidelines. We've very much in the game and we're making big plays.
Help out if you can by checking with your school before summer lets out to make sure the guidelines are being implemented in your child's school. We need the school's agreement and help to make it happen. And thankfully, after two years, we have nearly 80 percent of schools under contract in compliance. But we want to keep working toward the goal.
Hopefully, you've already noticed the change. If you haven't, please let your principal or school superintendent know that this is the summer to make it happen in your school.