Susan K. Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association, testified before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry about the efforts underway by the beverage industry to provide more lower-calorie and nutritious beverages in schools.
“As the mother of two elementary school children, I applaud the committee for holding a hearing on child nutrition, particularly as it relates to programs involving foods and beverages sold in our nation’s schools,” Neely said. “As a representative of America’s beverage industry, I am proud that we are already cutting calories in our nation’s schools with the National School Beverage Guidelines, and we want to work with Congress to continue this success.”
The non-alcoholic beverage industry’s National School Beverage Guidelines were created in May 2006, in a partnership between the American Beverage Association, The Coca-Cola Company, Dr Pepper Snapple Group (formerly Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages) and PepsiCo and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association.
Under the guidelines, beverage offerings are limited to water, milk and 100 percent juice for elementary and middle school students, as younger children need more guidance to choose foods and beverages appropriate for their nutrition and caloric needs. High school students are offered more beverage options, however calories are capped and portion sizes have been reduced. Also, no full-calorie soft drink products are available at any grade level.
During her testimony, Neely detailed the success of the School Beverage Guidelines. “In just two years since we began implementing the national School Beverage Guidelines, there has been a 58 percent decrease in beverage calories shipped to schools and nearly 80 percent of schools
under contract with bottlers are in full compliance — exceeding the 75 percent two-year standard called for in the MOU,” Neely said. “This puts the industry close to completing its agreement with the Alliance to reach full implementation of the School Beverage Guidelines by the beginning of next school year.”
Neely also reiterated the industry’s commitment to working with the Congress to ensure that a real world beverage standard continues to be used in schools across the country. “In 2007, we supported legislation authored by Senators Harkin and Murkowski that developed a sensible school beverage standard that would teach our kids the importance of a healthy balanced lifestyle. We stand ready to support similar legislation again this year.”
For more information on the national School Beverage Guidelines please visit www.SchoolBeverages.com.
The American Beverage Association is the trade association representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the United States.