New Rules for School Vending Machines - Less Junk, More Food

Health & Wellness on 02.23.12
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Are your kids picky eaters at home? Don't worry, they won't be able to load up on (as much) junk at school anymore under nutritional standards being worked on by the Obama administration.

Is it the government's place to regulate what goes into vending machines at schools? Will they bow to interest groups, the high fructose corn syrup and chocolate milk coalitions?

One thing's for sure, there's a problem with childhood obesity. Blame it on the video games, the electric scooters, blame it on the parents (remember, when you point, more fingers point back at you.)

These new nutritional standards are to be released in the next few weeks, during election season. According to The New York Times, kids eat up to half of their daily food at school. The prez and his advisors say they want to make sure school vending machines dispense more food and less junk.

A study of Minnesota schools is worth mentioning:

"Few principals or food service directors reported the presence of any school policies related to nutrition and food, and we observed inconsistency between principals and food service directors regarding responsibility for setting food policy.

"These data suggest that nutrition policy is not given a high priority within the secondary school environment, a conclusion that also is consistent with national data on school health-related policies. Given the epidemic of childhood and adolescent obesity and the linkages between nutrition and chronic disease, school policy related to food and nutrition clearly needs increased attention."

That was back in 2002, published in the American Journal of Public Health.

A more recent round-up from Yahoo! News lays out how little things have changed. For instance, about half of the public and private schools in the U.S. have vending machines or other ways for kids to get unhealthy snacks.

Picking out the good from the bad here isn't as easy as it sounds. Such as: Schools often sell candy bars for fundraisers. You wouldn't want to ban those, would you? Or maybe this is an opportunity for selling something more nutritious (and losing money in sales).

Maybe it's best to remember in this situation that no matter what the rules end up being (tomato paste on pizza is a vegetable?), that good nutrition and habits start at home.

I asked around about this vending machine issue and one person replied, "Why do schools have vending machines anyway, mine didn't." Did yours? 

Photo by S. Diddy

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