Students React to Bay District School Health Plan

Bay County public school students won't be able to grab snacks like this on local campuses in the near future.

District officials are implementing changes to the district's wellness plan that establishes guidelines for all foods sold in vending machines.

Snacks have to have: 35% or less of their calorie content from fat and must not have more than 30% of its weight come from sugar. That would eliminate junk foods.

Drink machines will include only "non-carbonated drinks with less than 25 calories per container." that means no more sports drinks like Powerade or Gatorade.

Some students wonder if school officials should be making these kinds of decisions for them.

"I think it should be the parents. Parents have different opinions on what their children should or should not eat and some kids have different diets for certain reasons. So if they want to drink a Gatorade at school I think it should be up to the parents, not up to the school district," said Annie Cross, a Bay County High School student.

Bay county health department director Dr. Jason Newsom is up-front about this issue. He's posted signs outside his own health department building expressing his beliefs. He also helped devise this school plan.

"Obesity in adults in this country is greater than 60%. So from that I would say the majority of Americans do not have the capacity to make those decisions for themselves, more or less make those decisions for their kids," said Dr. Jason Newsom, Bay County Health Department Director.

The policy also says "school staff members are not allowed to use food for reward or punishment," meaning no edible treats for a job well done.

"I think there's a difference between handing a student one piece of candy and dumping a whole bucket of candy on their table. If it's just a little piece, like maybe a tootsie roll saying congratulations for getting it right, instead of a bag of candy. Now maybe a bag of candy could be considered wrong, but a piece of candy I don't think is too wrong," said Elysha Howard, Bay County High School student.

Enforcing the new policy will probably be the difficult part. The district's school wellness coordinator Tommy St. Amant and Superintendent James McCalister will be meeting next week to discuss how to implement the changes.

School Year: 2008-09


The Bay District School Board is committed to providing school environments that promote and protect children’s health, well-being, and ability to learn by supporting healthy eating and physical activity. The Board also believes a healthy staff can more effectively perform their assigned duties and model appropriate wellness behaviors for students. These guidelines encourage a comprehensive wellness approach that is sensitive to individual and community needs.


Academic performance and quality of life issues are affected by the choice and availability of nutritious foods in our schools. Healthy foods support student’s ability to learn, student physical growth, brain development, resistance to disease, and emotional stability. Our goals for the 2008-09 school year will be:

A. Nutrition guidelines will require 1/3 of the Recommended Dietary Allowances for
lunch and ¼ of the RDA’s for breakfast. Nutritional analysis of breakfast and lunch menus will be posted on the Bay District Schools Food Service webpage each month. All foods will be served in appropriate portion sizes consistent with USDA standards and be served in a clean and pleasant setting allowing enough time for students to eat.

B. Nutrition services policies and guidelines for reimbursable meals will not be more restrictive than federal and state regulations require.

C. A la carte offerings to students shall meet Department of Education State Rule 6-7.042 FAC Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value.

D. Vending and Snack Machines

1. Elementary - Students will not have access to beverage or snack machines.

2. Middle Schools - Carbonated beverages are not permitted in student
vending machines. Additional vending machine guidelines are included below under high schools. No student snack machines will be allowed in the middle schools.

3. High Schools

a. Snack Machines

All snack machines shall provide only single serving snacks. All snacks in vending machines shall meet the following guidelines:

1. Less than or equal to 35% calories from fat.
2. Less than or equal to 30% sugar by weight.
3. All types of nuts are allowed.

b. High School Beverage Vending Machines Operated by the School:

The beverage vending machines may include:

1. Water
2. One hundred percent (100%) fruit juice.
3. Non-carbonated drinks with less than 25 calories per container
4. Diet carbonated drinks with zero calories
5. Non-fat, low-fat plain or flavored milk or yogurt in 16 ounces or
less serving sizes, and other calcium containing beverages with less than or equal to 150 calories per 8 ounces.
6. One hundred percent (100%) vegetable juice.

E. School health nurses will offer “Healthy Weight Management” curriculum to Pre-K – 12 grade students.
F. All health education programs will follow Sunshine State Standards.
G. School staff members are not allowed to use food for reward or punishment.


Physical education and physical activity shall be an essential element of each school’s instructional program. The program shall provide the opportunity for all students to develop skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to participate in a lifetime of healthful physical activity. A comprehensive physical activity program encompasses a variety of opportunities for students to be physically active, including: physical education, recess, walk-to-school programs, after-school physical activity programs, health education that includes physical activity as a main component, and physical activity breaks within regular classrooms.
The 2008-09 goals for physical activity will be:

A. All K-5 school students will be provided 150 minutes a week of physical education. When K-5 physical education is offered it will be 30 consecutive minutes. 100% of 6 -12 schools will offer physical activity programs.

B. Seventy percent of K-12 schools will offer physical activity programs before and/or after school.

C. The district will offer 12 hours of physical education inservice opportunities each year for all K-12 physical education teachers.

D. All middle and high schools will offer interscholastic sports programs. Schools will offer a range of sport offerings to meet the needs of boys and girls in grades 6-12.



Health services will be offered through a collaborative agreement between the Bay County Health Department and the Bay District Schools according to State Statutes.

1. Primary coordination of health services shall be through a trained registered school health nurse supervisor with the support and direction of the Bay District Schools and the Bay County Health Department.

2. Bay District Schools shall collaborate with community health liaisons and resources to promote health and wellness for students, families, staff and community.

3. A coordinated program of accessible health services shall be provided to students and staff and shall include violence prevention, school safety, communicable disease prevention, health screening, including Body Mass Index (BMI), community health referrals, immunizations, parenting skills, and first aid/CPR training.


The district and each work site shall provide information about wellness resources and services and establish a wellness representative to assist in identifying and supporting the health, safety and well-being of site staff. During the 2008-09 school year a wellness representative designee will be assigned by the principal.

1. Each school and district site shall be in compliance with drug, alcohol and tobacco free policies.

2. Each school and district site shall provide an accessible and productive work environment free from physical dangers or emotional threat that is as safe as possible and consistent with applicable occupation and health laws, policies and rules.

3. Employees shall be encouraged to engage in daily physical activity. The goal for 2008-09 will be:

Employees will be offered the opportunity to participate in healthy lifestyle programs by the Bay County Health Department.


Each school will appoint a school wellness representative. The wellness representative will report each year by May 1, on the status of their school in regard to the district wellness goals. Each school will be provided an evaluative form for self reporting. Each school’s evaluative report will be studied and reviewed by the School Health Advisory Council for progress toward meeting the district wellness goals. Recommendations for revisions and improvement in the District Wellness plan will be reviewed each year by the School Health Advisory Council. The Bay District School Board will be given as an informational item an annual district report on the first regular board meeting of July regarding the effectiveness of the district wellness plan.

The Bay District Wellness Plan was advertised for adoption at the March 8, 2006, School Board and approved as policy at the April 12, 2006, School Board meeting. The Board policy reads:

Pursuant to the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42USC 1771 et seq), Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act PL 108-265, Section 204, State Board of Education Rules – 6A-7.0411, the Bay County School Board shall make as part of its rules a publication of guidelines titled Bay District Schools Wellness Plan. This plan shall include goals for nutrition standards and education, physical activity, and other school-based activities. This plan will be evaluated each year and recommended revisions presented to the Bay County School Board.

First revision of the Bay District Wellness plan was May 1, 2007.
Second revision of the Bay District Wellness plan was May 1, 2008.

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  • by CynicLgrrl Location: Panama City on Oct 25, 2008 at 03:48 PM
    Part I Although the concern of the Bay County School Board and Dr. Jason Newsom for the children's health is commendable, this is a problem that has been instilled in most children from toddlerhood. "If you behave you'll get to have ICE CREAM! Mmmm". Schools claim to be preparing our children for adulthood--particularly High School students. Well, they are well on their way! As an adult, I can assure them that I'm watching in disbelief as my options, rights, and civil liberties vanish before my vary eyes. C'mon, Let's face it-- these students will be making their 'very own food and beverage choices ' as an 'adult' any day now. ~ CynicLgrrl
  • by Dennis Location: High Schools on Oct 24, 2008 at 07:10 PM
    If kids have'nt learned what to eat(healthy), by the time they get to H.S, you can forget about changing their minds. Dr J should know that NUTs are a NO-NO in schools, as a lot of kids have extreme physical reactions to something contained in nuts Another factor, not considered, is that schools receive commissions based on the amount of products sold.You are looking at a huge reductions in lost funds, which in the past as monies used to buy class supplies such as computers, TVs and other supplies. This new concept will not be accepted by the KIDS
  • by CynicLgrrl Location: Panama City on Oct 24, 2008 at 01:22 PM
    Part III With young adults it is particularly important not to make decisions 'for them', but rather to teach them HOW to make sound decisions. Equip them with the knowledge of the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. And then--'compromise'! A little compromise never hurt anybody. Rather than remove their choices entirely, perhaps a good compromise would be to avail these machines for a 'limited' time during the day and provide a few 'healthier' choices in addition to the 'junk food'. I think we'd all be rather surprised to find out that alot of these young adults would make smarter, healthier choices than those for which we give them credit. ~ CynicLgrrl
  • by CynicLgrrl Location: Panama City on Oct 24, 2008 at 01:21 PM
    Part II Oh-- also, somebody might want to mention the Bay County school boards' new novel approach to the Pizza Hut’s 'Book It ' program. Since it's inception in 1985 'Book It' has been an incentive program used by 50,000 schools nationwide--to reward young readers with free pizzas. On it's website the 'Book It' program provides a list and links to 20 of it's 'partners' --two of which are Reading is Fundamental and the U.S. Department of Education. Even if Bay County schools do not participate in, or are promoters of the program, they are certainly associated with 'Partner's who 'do' and 'ARE. What kind of mixed message is that? ~ CynicLgrrl
  • by Addison Location: Panama City on Oct 24, 2008 at 10:29 AM
    Mr. Newsom, You can take whatever you like out of the vending machines at Bay County Schools. I can assure you that myself and other parents will send the snacks and gatorade in our childrens lunch boxes. My childs diet is none of your business and I would thank you stay out of it. Try bullying someone else. I won't take it.
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