Confessions of a soda fiend

NYC Mayor wants to ban large sodas but is that the best long-term solution?

By 
Lindsey Ramsey, Contributing Editor

Last week New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed one of his increasingly common ideas for bans in the form of restricting the size of the sodas, energy drinks, and presweetened teas that can be sold in restaurants, movie theaters and sports arenas to no larger than 16 fluid ounces. Now the mayor has good intentions. He wants the city to be healthier, and it is common knowledge that soda is a leading cause of empty calories that lead to obesity. Diet sodas, dairy-based drinks (milkshakes!), fruit juice drinks and alcoholic beverages would be exempt, and convenience stores could still sell their version of Big Gulps.

Even I—a self-confessed soda fiend—must admit that the idea of purchasing an actual small soda at the movie theater rather than something that resembles a popcorn bucket is very appealing. I absolutely am addicted to soda and though I’ve made various attempts to quit drinking it over the years, none has been overwhelmingly successful. Despite my understanding of where the mayor is coming from I don’t think this is the best solution in the long term.

As evidenced by my many attempts to quit drinking soda, the mayor and the city have already found a solution that works and it isn’t based on banning anything. When you are in an NYC subway and you come face to face with this, it’s tough to not think about what you are consuming when you drink a soda. These posters started showing up a few years ago and I must say, they’ve definitely made an impact on me. I think they are representative of what should be happening in the fight against obesity; education, not regulation. The same concept has worked well in the posting of calories at fast food restaurants. Customers are educated about the calories and then hopefully make a better choice. But forcing them to make a certain choice doesn’t seem to me to make the lesson stick as well. It’s unclear whether Bloomberg’s new crusade will actually come to fruition; even health crusader Michelle Obama was hesitant to endorse it, but I hope common sense will prevail and the city will realize they should just double its education efforts rather than another ultimately ineffective ban.

Couldn't resist adding this too. Jerry Seinfeld has a different approach to the soda ban here.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

Ideas and Innovation
tapas

I’ve created a high school “focus group” to see what future college students will want in terms of foodservice. This year, I called up two now-seniors from the last group to get 10 of their friends together. I also include a sophomore or two so that I always have a contact for next year. Tapas, grain bowls and late-night breakfast all originated from this group.

Ideas and Innovation
making meals

This summer, we teamed up with a church to deliver meals to three housing projects. We brought the meals to the church, and then the church recruited volunteers to deliver the meals to the children. We’ve been very impressed with this new model, and it shows great promise in getting meals to children who otherwise would not be able to leave their housing project.

Industry News & Opinion
sharing love

Having never personally experienced a hurricane, I can only imagine the horrors faced by the millions of people whose lives were affected by Harvey and Irma in late August and early September. It’s a group that comprises uncounted noncommercial operations, including Houston Independent School District, which serves 215,000 students.

But from that tragedy has come one of the most impressive feats of foodservice I’ve seen since coming on board at this magazine, partially spearheaded by Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins , who only just joined the district. For the entire school year,...

FSD Resources