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franklin county times

Healthier alternatives to soft drinks already available in local schools

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
March 25, 2001
Coca-Cola officials in Atlanta announced last week they are changing the way they sell products in schools, but Meridian Coca-Cola Bottling Company is way ahead of them.
Atlanta officials say they will stock healthier drinks in schools' vending machines, do away with giant logos and encourage bottling companies not to sign exclusive contracts with schools.
Tommy Duncan, general sales and marketing manager for Meridian Coca-Cola, said schools here already stock healthier alternatives to soft drinks.
Bids usually have a volume requirement, meaning schools have to sell a certain amount of the product within a certain time frame, Duncan said.
Mississippi laws also limit students' accessibility to snacks and soft drinks, Duncan said.
Because of state-mandated school lunch programs and people's basic desire for variety, Duncan said it's hard to say if offering students healthier drinks means schools make less money.
As far as a new plan to encourage healthier choices, Duncan said Meridian Coca Cola was trying to change concepts as early as the 1980s.
When people were pushing the "Adopt a School" program during a meeting at Meridian High School, Duncan said it was Meridian Coca Cola officials who suggested it be called "Partners in Education" and coined the phrase.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.