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    School Lunches Get a Garnish

    Fizzy Milk? continued...

    "We are not competing with milk," Clark says. "We want kids who drink milk and like it the way it is to drink milk, but we want to give the other kids the opportunity to have a beverage that is lightly carbonated, flavored, and available in colors that are kind of neat, with all the nutrition of milk."

    Currently, most schools comply with an agreement not to sell soda during the pre-lunch or lunchtime period. And the Coca-Cola company recently reported that it will end its exclusive contracts with a limited number of schools; include juice, milk, and water in its school vending machines; and replace advertising on those machines with pictures of students engaged in sports and other physical activity.

    "Schools have a responsibility to offer good nutrition to children whether during the meal or afterward," the PTA's Igo says. "Many children are overweight and don't get enough exercise, so when snack foods are available it just compounds the problem and just closing them off at noontime is not the answer," she says.

    "We appreciate that schools are strapped for cash, but children should not be a marketing commodity," Igo says. "The revenues from soft drink machines do not add the kind of dollars that schools need to do the things they want to do," she says.

    If you would like to learn more about school lunches, participate in WebMD's live event on Thursday, Sept. 6 at 1 p.m. titled "Ask the Expert: School Lunches -- Healthy or Harmful?" Expert Ellen Haas, former undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services at the USDA, will be on hand to answer your questions.

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