Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Vending Machines in schools

I can't tell you how appalled I am at the existence of most vending machines in schools. They are full of food that is simply bad for you, and the schools (and the companies providing the machines or food) are profiting on the ill-health of our children.

Doesn't that seem like a conflict of interest? The schools are supposed to be teaching our kids the things they need to know to successfully navigate through life (and honestly, good nutrition seems like a better investment for most kids, than the quadratic equation) yet they don't teach them much about proper nutrition, and make pop and candy and other junk food freely available.

Some school administrations point to the large sources of revenue that vending machines provide, and we all know that schools are usually running shy of funds. But it's just wrong for them to be profiting on and encouraging the kids' a) ill-health and b) lack of self-control and c) making incorrect choices. We have an epidemic of obesity in this country that affects our youth in two ways. The first is that they are learning the habits of adulthood, so even if they aren't overweight now, they are forming habits that will hurt them later. The second is that many of the kids are already overweight, and we are just enabling them to continue their poor eating habits.

So how should schools handle this? Short of ditching the machines entirely, get rid of the pop. Put in bottled water, even some flavored waters. Put healthy choices into the food machines. I recently saw a vending machine with carrot sticks in it. Granola bars, while not great, aren't bad. Just get the ones low in sugar, please.

Schools, please make these changes. Parents, write to your school board and demand (politely) that they do something about this problem.

And one final note - my stepson's teachers believe in rewarding the kids with candy. Stop it. Candy is bad for them, and their behavior tends to get worse with bad foods, rather than better. And you are teaching them to strive to get the candy, not to do what's right.

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