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Flemish schools to ban sugar-rich drinks and sweets

22:45 30/11/2016

The Flemish education networks and the food sector have agreed to a ban on sugary drinks and snacks from primary and secondary schools. Individual schools, however, can still decide for themselves whether to implement the ban.

Some 65% of secondary schools still have soft drink vending machines. Primary schools have already banned soft drinks and sweets, but students still get some sugar-rich drinks like chocolate milk.

The agreement between the education sector and Fevia, the umbrella organisation of the Belgian food industry, is the result of months of negotiations started at the request of education minister Hilde Crevits. It is based on recommendations from the Flemish Institute for Health Promotion and Sickness Prevention (Vigez).

Concretely, vending machine suppliers will now provide healthier alternatives such as regular milk, water, fruit, vegetables and rice cakes. Crevits pointed out that the education system has an important role to play in raising children to become healthy and happy adults. The whole school culture should be based on a balanced health policy, she said.

Secondary schools can still decide independently whether they ban their sweets-filled vending machines or not; some of them earn significant revenue from the machines. “Schools that earn a profit from their dispensers may be the most difficult to convince,” Loes Neven of Vigez told Het Nieuwsblad. “But if some schools don’t achieve these ambitious goals, we will see if additional measures can be taken.”

Photo courtesy Coffee Fresh

Written by Andy Furniere