Nanny state says no to brownies, pizza

Uncle Sam could ban school bake sales and pizza days under a child nutrition bill on its way to President Barack Obama, reports AP.

The legislation, part of first lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to stem childhood obesity, provides more meals at school for needy kids, including dinner, and directs the Agriculture Department to write guidelines to make those meals healthier. The legislation would apply to all foods sold in schools during regular class hours, including in the cafeteria line, vending machines and at fundraisers.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will have the power to decide when a food-based fundraiser is “infrequent” (OK) or “frequent” (not OK).

Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest says the bill is aimed at curbing daily or weekly bake sales or pizza fundraisers that become a regular part of kids’ lunchtime routines.

What so awful about a weekly slice of pizza? Obesity starts at home, not at school.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. This is, of course, the inevitable result of ignoring constitutional constraints and allowing the federal government to have any say in any of this. If you’re not going to keep the beast on it’s chains, you have no right to complain when it mauls you.

  2. Obesity starts in the home, not the school.

    So do manners.

    But where it starts, what does that have to do with anything?

    The question is, do we want to do anything about it? And if so, does it do more harm than good?

    I can give students what they want, or as Postman puts it, I complete with popular culture.

    I’m against a nanny state, but as for nanny schools, we need more of them.

  3. CarolineSF says:

    Or a weekly pack of cigarettes, for that matter. Smoking starts in the home, not at school.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    People suffering severe personal tragedies are usually too busy to bother the rest of us.
    Not that I’m wishing anything on anybody.

  5. many districts have already put these policies in place. i am regularly given memo’s about what foods i am and am not allowed to serve in classroom celebrations — especially near holiday times. and we’ve even had a faculty meeting or two about it. we’re mostly allowed to bring in veggie or fruit trays and can serve no foods with more than a certain percentage of fat. (i forget right now what that percentage is.)

  6. I grew up with almost weekly bake sales for grades 5-12 at school; primarily cookies and cupcakes, but fudge was also popular. It was the major fundraising method for the senior class trip. There were also no restrictions on what could be brought to classroom birthday parties and holiday parties. The latter was also true of my kids’ schools. None of the above places had a significant obesity problem (I had no PE and the kids had it 1-2 times a week), but in both generations, almost all kids were free-range, in today’s terminology. We did regular chores, picked wild berries, gardened, rode bikes, climbed trees, played in the local streams, and my kids played travel sports. You can’t adopt a kitten from a shelter without investigation and a license, but … it all starts at home and the influence is hard to overcome.

  7. Folks,

    You live in one of the most obese countries in the entire world, and you feed your kids crap.

    This bill is going to save you a huge amount of money if it is successful because it might encourage your children, at least, to eat some decent food. Why will it save money? Because your soaring health care costs might actually start to be constrained a bit. The situation is desperate and most of you don’t even see it. So many diseases are a result of poor diet.

    You should remember that this is restricting what the state can do in the schools, not what food the children bring in themselves to give away. Currently the US provides money for food for many children who receive at least one meal a day. By the way, for many of these children this is their only meal of the day. I worked in such a school. The food was horrible, not worth feeding to dogs.

    Seriously, improving the quality of the food your kids eat isn’t okay?

  8. David,
    I’ve seen a handful of schools that have enacted healthy eating policies – removing ‘fatty’ items from the lunch menu, preventing the distribution of sweets at events, even going so far as to try to limit what individual students can bring in their brown bag lunches.
    It fails. Miserably. In the schools that don’t police brown bag lunches, students just don’t buy school lunches and instead bring in their own junk food. I’ve even seen parents delivering McDonald’s to their children at school.
    As for schools that ‘police’ brown bag lunches, such policies are never successful and are usually just ignored by parents and students.

    So, for no benefit, we get yet another federal education regulation (btw, the feds have no right to regulate education), money will be wasted on various programs according to the bill (we have plenty of money to waste, right?), and the regulation inconveniences individuals who would not derive any of the intended benefit from it.

    I’m all for carefully planning school lunches and eliminating junk food (real junk food, not pizza) from cafeterias, but the government is reaching too far to solve a problem that it cannot solve (nor has the right to) through regulation.

    Childhood obesity is not primarily a diet problem, but instead an activity problem. My students sit in their desks for most of the day (not that I have a problem with that), go home and sit or lay down while they play video games, watch TV, text, and then go to sleep for the night. Usually late also, which has also been shown to increase obesity.

  9. CarolineSF says:

    The obesity epidemic is due to a combination of factors, not one mysterious factor. The fact that junk food and soda used to be an occasional treat and are now at arm’s length at all times is generally believed to be one of the factors. I guess one could dispute that if one were seriously stubborn.

    The fact is that health professionals agree that today’s generation of young people is likely to be the first generation in modern history to lead a shorter lifespan than their parents’ generation, entirely due to obesity and its effects. If we want to sneer at efforts to change that, it’s our right, of course, but it seems awfully coldblooded. What exactly is the harm in trying to change it?

  10. This does feel a little nannyish, but the cause is many years of schools taking the path of least resistance and caving in to the temptation to pander to childrens’ unwise food preferences. If schools insist on letting children bring birthday treats, raising money constantly by selling unhealthy food to the children, and nearly burying children in treats at each holiday, they can expect some pushback.

  11. CarolineSF says:

    Also, it’s really easy for parents of pampered Palo Alto princes and princesses, who are the demographic least at risk of obesity and related maladies (high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, asthma), to sneer and scoff at the issue when it overwhelmingly affects poor kids of color at a distant remove from their rarefied environs.

  12. Serving healthy food is useless if kids won’t eat it; I understand that’s been a problem at the MS with which Alice Waters is involved. (trash cans tell the tale) It was the same at my older kids’ ES; the salad bar lasted less than a semester because few kids would eat from it. I see the same thing among the kids and grandkids of my extended family and friends. If they’ve been fed junk for 5 years, it’s very tough to get them to eat healthy food. A teacher relative says the same; she eats the healthy option at her HS, but very few of the kids will touch it. Either they choose the junk the school offers or they bring in their own junk.

    Elite travel sports teams often get a bad rap from pediatricians, teachers and other parents, but as a 20+ year veteran parent, I can say that those kids learn early that eating healthy is a necessity. Of course, they also are seriously exercised and have no obesity issues. Considering those benefits, it’s interesting how much animosity such kids and parents attract.

  13. One thing I’ve noticed since they shut off all the vending machines during the day is not only that the kids are eating less junk, but the trash it generated has disapeared. There’s no longer cookie wrappers shrewn in the halls and trashcans overflowing with soda bottles.

  14. “Obesity starts at home, not at school.” But that’s not true for literacy, right?

  15. Getting rid of the vending machines alone will knock a lot of pounds off many kids. They should have never been there to begin with. If there’s going to be a vending machine, then only ones with bottled water.

    And if they throw their school lunch away, well so what? They paid for it. They aren’t going to starve. Eventually, they’ll either eat some of it or start bringing food from home. It isn’t our place to monitor every bite. It’s our place to offer them a decent lunch, and what they do with it is their business.

    And if some bring McDonalds, well then it’s on them and not the school. The school is not contributing to the problem, which it is now in a big way.

    And stop offering them pizza or a hamburger on a daily basis if they don’t like the lunch. Who’s the genius who came up with that one? Offer them a salad choice or some yogurt. It’s up to them. Or, once again, they can bring something from home, just like their parents.

    Water fountains worked quite well for decades.

  16. “Also, it’s really easy for parents of pampered Palo Alto princes and princesses, who are the demographic least at risk of obesity and related maladies (high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, asthma), to sneer and scoff at the issue when it overwhelmingly affects poor kids of color at a distant remove from their rarefied environs.”

    I don’t live in PA but rather in a similarly affluent area and I can tell you that it isn’t just the poor and/or minority children who are struggling with obesity these days. I see plenty of rich white fat kids, too. They sit there at the playground stuffing their faces with pre-packaged junk while their nannies yak on their cell phones or to each other. It’s really sad to see these young kids so obese and sedentary.

  17. CarolineSF says:

    The salad bars in most SF schools are generally popular; I’ve spent a lot of time in the school cafeterias and have observed it myself. The elementary school salad bars get a mixed reception school by school, in unpredictable ways. At Miraloma Elementary, which is heavily white middle-class by SFUSD standards, the salad bar was almost untouched and was eventually removed. At West Portal Elementary, also heavily middle-class white and Asian, the kids seem to eat the finger items (carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes) and ignore the actual lettuce salad part. At Bret Harte Elementary in Bayview Hunters Point, heavily African-American and right outside a housing project that looks like a set from “The Wire,” the kids gobble up the salads. Go figure. The salad bars at middle and high schools are almost universally popular.

    Agreed that there are quite a few fat rich white kids too, but the problem is much more widespread in low-income black, Latino and Asian Pacific Islander communities, whose low-income residents also overall have far less access to health care.

    So when middle-class whites snipe and sneer at efforts to improve the nutritional quality of foods provided in school, they are inherently saying they don’t give a crap about those kids and those communities. Which I’m sure is true, but I’m not sure they mean to be quite so nakedly contemptuous.

  18. Actually, the way to solve this is to mandate one hour of physical education a day from grades 6 through 12, only exceptions would be for persons playing sports (football, baseball, hockey, swimming, soccer, basketball, cross country/track, etc), we have pretty much taken physical education out of the school day, and in my state, the length of the school day hasn’t changed in more than 36 years (6 hours).

    Mandating an extra hour to the school day here for physical education would probably go a long way in getting rid of excess weight and also improve the learning ability of many schoolkids. As a teen in the late 70’s, we were always playing outside (touch football, went to the school to shoot hoops, rode our bikes, swam, etc), we wanted to go play video games, we rode the old bikes to the arcade, we wanted to go to McD’s, we rode our bikes there, but we were always moving and exercising (didn’t have too many overweight kids back then).

  19. CarolineSF says:

    The view among health and nutrition professionals is that it’s a combination of factors — the “toxic environment” — that lead to the obesity crisis. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just doing one thing, such as mandating an hour of PE a day. Also, there IS a minimum amount of PE mandated every day already. So while more activity would certainly help, it’s not the solution in and of itself.

  20. CarolineSF-
    Yes, we have mandated time for Phys Ed class. They spend it well – reading news articles about the struggles popular athletes have overcome, studying and taking tests on the history and rules of various sports, or doing PowerPoint projects on the importance of physical activity on their lifetime health (I almost laughed at the irony of that one when a student of mine told me about it). Occasionally they stretch.
    Other schools I’ve seen that actually expect students to… well… move, fall victim to “it’s my time of the month-itis” or “this is lame-itis” from students. The phys ed teachers (don’t ever call them gym teachers) have trouble enough with 30-40 or more students per class and usually aren’t able to fail students for failing to perform.

  21. This doesn’t seem like a bad idea: coming from a school where there were maybe two bake sales per year (and no vending machines), I’m kind of appalled that these happened so frequently.

    Of course, my school had a “smoking patio” where the students were allowed to go and smoke during lunch, so it’s not like my school was a shining beacon of health.

  22. CarolineSF says:

    i agree — PE needs to involve actual physical exercise! Just saying that there’s not one single cause of the obesity epidemic and there won’t be one single magic bullet that ends it. But also, I’m just pointing out, again, that out-of-touch elitists who don’t give a crap about the poor (though let this be a pointed reminder that we are probably talking about the children of your housecleaners and yard workers) are the ones who can afford to scoff, sneer and pooh-pooh efforts to eliminate ongoing junk food sales in schools.

  23. CarolineSF,

    I’ve got to say, your constant painting of opponents of this federal law as elitists and racists for not attempting to the poor minority kids not get fat is getting very, very tiresome. To be blunt, the only elitist and racist arguments in this entire comment thread have been brought by you.

    Let’s deconstruct your arguments here a bit…

    Agreed that there are quite a few fat rich white kids too, but the problem is much more widespread in low-income black, Latino and Asian Pacific Islander communities, whose low-income residents also overall have far less access to health care.

    So when middle-class whites snipe and sneer at efforts to improve the nutritional quality of foods provided in school, they are inherently saying they don’t give a crap about those kids and those communities. Which I’m sure is true, but I’m not sure they mean to be quite so nakedly contemptuous.

    Put another way, you’re saying that without the help of the elites in Washington passing a law to save them from themselves, low-income minority populations just can’t help but get really fat. The ugly assumptions under the surface of this argument abound, but let me address just a few directly.

    First, there is the fact that you’re infantilizing low-income minorities. This law is necessary because these people need the (predominantly white) government to prevent their exposure to a “toxic environment” so as to prevent an outcome which you, along with the elites in government and media view as bad.

    Second, there is the implicit racism and elitism in the view that childhood obesity is in fact a “crisis”. Consider, for a moment, the BMI brackets that define underweight, normal, overweight, and obese. Which one of these groups has the longest lifespan? Overweight. Why is that not normal, then? Considering body fat is part of the survival mechanism for human beings, it shouldn’t be surprising that people who have a decent amount of it live longer. However, the BMI brackets are influenced by the caucasian (and masculine, for that matter) ideal about body fat.

    Look at the sculptures from European antiquity. The men have almost no body fat. The women are more realistic, but still on the slim side. Compare this with art of non-European cultures. (For a readily accessible example, consider a Buddha statue.) When one looks at art, it starts to become clear that this prejudice against body fat is a European cultural trait.

    The “obesity crisis” has as much to do with the prejudice that the government and media elites have against fat people as anything else. Fact is, most cultures just aren’t as worried about getting fat as European cultures are. Moreover, no culture on the face of the earth is as worried about fat as the current American government and media elites. Even medical science is starting to evolve its views on weight beyond the “fat = unhealthy” mantra inherited from its European roots.

    Third, there is the very blunt elitism in the belief that an anointed few are so qualified to make personal choices for others that those choices should be enshrined in the law and be enforced using the money-and-guns complex that stands behind any law.

    Finally, something must be said about the personal conceit that you, personally, can determine that the entirety of opposition to this law comes from racist white elitists who don’t care about the poor. There must not be any legitimate reasons to oppose this specific law because CarolineSF has determined that all opposition is racist white elitism! Though, on second thought, I don’t see it as a conceit so much as weak mind hiding from the complexities of the issue by demonizing the other side.

    Just a piece of advice, if you can’t stop yourself from turning to insults, try to make sure they don’t point back to your own faults. One’s hypocrisy should only go so far.

  24. Richard Aubrey says:

    The obesity crisis is another looming catastrophe ginned up to justify yet another government intrusion into our lives.
    My father played football for UConn 39-42, at 6’1″, said to be the fastest end in the league. That’s overweight according to the feds today.
    When I got out of OCS, overworked, overstressed, underfed, in shape for a world-class decathlon, or at least the military pentathlon, I was 6.2″ and 205. That’s overweight according to the feds.
    Some folks are fat. You’ll see more of them in Walmart than in an upscale deli.
    Those are facts.
    Dealing with the facts is not the feddies’ business.

  25. Richard Aubrey says:

    Should be 6’1″ 185 for the fastest end in the conference ‘way back.
    Now overweight.

  26. PE for grades k-4 doesn’t usually present a problem, but by 5th grade, many girls are entering puberty and need to shower after exercise. I’ve never seen an ES with showers and in the schools my kids attended, showering after PE was not done in either MS or HS. If showering is done, essentially half of a 45-55 minute period is spent changing and showering; if not, kids won’t get sweaty. School PE just isn’t efficient. Also, the kids most likely to need exercise are least likely to do it; the list of excuses is infinite.

    A significant part of the pressure for daily PE for all comes from the teachers, including the union. I’ve attended and spoken at school board meetings where the PE requirements and giving PE credit for playing on an athletic team have been discussed and always there has been the argument that the school would then need fewer PE teachers. It’s seen as a jobs program. Also, many communities have very significant numbers of kids who are serious athletes outside of school activities. I have never heard a convincing argument made for requiring these kids to take PE; if the goal is fitness, it shouldn’t matter how or where it’s acquired.

  27. cranberry says:

    Our school boosters don’t hold bake sales or pizza sales. The school sells pizza once a week (it’s cheap, and there are apparently federal incentives which make it cheaper yet.) The school also sells popsicles,popcorn, and chips (baked not fried, but still very fattening.)

    School lunches are very fattening, in comparison to a tuna sandwich. I know there are federal regulations requiring the lunches to offer 1/3 of daily caloric intake. My child who brings his lunch doesn’t eat nearly as much as the school lunches serve, but makes it through the day justs fine. My child at a private school can eat as much or as little as he likes–there isn’t a required minimum. Trying to ensure that all children get a generous serving of food at lunchtime could have something to do with the increase in children’s bodyweights.

    Requiring daily PE, and reorganizing the school lunch program would do much more for student fitness than banning school fundraisers.

  28. CarolineSF says:

    That was rather a long-winded and incomprehensible way to claim my mother wears Army boots, Quincy.

    The obesity crisis that means our children’s generation is expected to live a shorter lfespan than our generation — due entirely to obesity and related maladies — falls most heavily by far on low-income communities of color.

    My opinion, as I’ve obvious expressed, is that it’s callous and elitist for privileged people living in wealthy communities who are entirely insulated from that crisis to sneer at efforts to remedy it. I think it’s legitimate to point that out.

    The notion that it’s racist and “infantilizing” to attempt to remedy the situation obviously would apply to ANY effort to improve the lives and well-being of low-income communities of color. So that’s the basic philosophy behind those accusations — no safety net for the poor. Needless to say, I disagree.

  29. CarolineSF says:

    Cranberry, you’re correct that the National School Lunch Program doesn’t set a maximum on the calories in a school lunch– though there is a maximum set on the fat. The standards are, well, eccentric and anachronistic. They seem to have a life of their own and to be beyond the reach of rationality.

    That said, popsicles, popcorn and chips are sold in a la carte lines or vending machines, not covered by the National School Lunch Program. Those are called “competitive foods” in the school food world.

    Studies show that students who eat the school meals tend to have a lower obesity rate than low-income students who don’t, and there are also studies linking the availability of competitive foods at schools with increased student obesity.

    For the definitive source on the school food situation in America today, seek out Janet Poppendieck’s book “Free for All: Fixing School Food in America.”

  30. CarolineSF,

    It really is a shame that you found that incomprehensible. (Long-winded I’ll own up to.) And the fact you, the *only* racist and elitist in this conversation, continue to level the charge at everyone who disagrees with you is laughable.

    The notion that it’s racist and “infantilizing” to attempt to remedy the situation obviously would apply to ANY effort to improve the lives and well-being of low-income communities of color. So that’s the basic philosophy behind those accusations — no safety net for the poor. Needless to say, I disagree.

    When you propose to improve their lives by saving the poor ignorant communities of color from themselves so that they can be more like rich white communities, you’re being racist and elitist. That’s a fact.

    You call this law a safety net. It’s not. It’s more like a set of puppet strings.

    At the heart of your argument is the assumption that poor minorities are getting fat because the toxic environment around them is forcing them to make bad choices. Get rid of the toxic environment, and these poor minorities will act just like rich white folks. Everyone got that? Living like a rich white person is what everyone secretly aspires to.

    Except, your assumption is dead wrong. It’s diversity–real diversity. Different people in will make different choices in the same situation based on their diverse values, wants, and needs. Change the situation, and people will still act differently. To believe that a ruling elite is capable (or even worthy) of overriding that with the force of law is disgustingly arrogant.

    A safety net is designed to catch people when they fall. It allows people to make choices and take risks with some form of protection when those don’t work out. What this law does, like so many from the modern nanny state, is attempts to force people into the elite-approved choice. It’s truly a shame that some people can’t appreciate the difference between the two.

  31. CarolineSF says:

    I would restate. Remedy the toxic environment where you can, in the hope that poor minorities will have a somewhat better chance of growing up as healthy as rich white folks. Poor minorities are statistically, overall on average, far more likely to suffer poor health and die younger than rich white folks.

    As an aside, poor minorities are also likely to live in “food deserts,” where it’s easy to get cheap unhealthy foods and difficult (and costly) to get wholesome, nutritious foods.

    Limiting the unhealthy foods available to young people at school doesn’t remedy that situation, but it’s an attempt to make the pervasive toxic environment a bit less toxic.

    What is the harm in limiting young people’s access to unhealthy foods at school, especially if there’s any chance that it will do any good?

  32. Richard Aubrey says:

    CarolineSF.
    One of the reasons there’s a food desert in some of these places is that the rich, white elites have decided that places like Walmart shall not sully their fair city. And Whole Paycheck Foods is not economical.
    Another is the difficulty of getting help that can pass a drug test–said one store manager to me. Another is security.
    Having said that, this is not the feds’ business.

  33. Caroline,

    I’m not saying there is a harm in schools limiting access to unhealthful food. As a matter of fact, I’m all for schools taking the initiative to model healthful lifestyles. But that’s not the issue here. The issue is the federal government using the force of law to do it. And that I am very much against.

    I’m also pointing out that calling for this to be done by the diktat of federal officials is incredibly elitist. When it comes to social change, the how is as important as the what. The goal of encouraging better health among any population is a laudable one. But using methods that take choice away from individuals and vest it with the ruling elite is neither laudable nor empowering.

    What is the harm in limiting young people’s access to unhealthy foods at school, especially if there’s any chance that it will do any good?

    I’m sorry, but “any chance that it will do any good” is an incredibly weak argument for anything. Every action has a cost and consequences, both intended and otherwise. The costs and possible unintended consequences of an action have to be weighed against the benefits of the intended actions. Considering the harm done to schools over the past decade by federal mandates, arguing for yet another one on the off chance that it might do some good is questionable at best.

  34. Richard Aubrey says:

    Quincy.
    But it’s all about the intentions. If the consequences are bad, inadvertently or otherwise, it’s all about the intentions.

  35. CarolineSF says:

    In other words, there’s no reason to oppose limiting unhealthy food in schools except that you hate the government. I can’t argue with that. I don’t hate the government, so my viewpoint is based on the opposite perspective.

  36. Caroline SF –
    “My opinion, as I’ve obvious expressed, is that it’s callous and elitist for privileged people living in wealthy communities who are entirely insulated from that crisis to sneer at efforts to remedy it. I think it’s legitimate to point that out.”

    I’m not privileged nor do I live in a wealthy community, plus I work in a low-income blue collar school, so I’m not insulated… so it’s ok for me to say that the feds are wrong to try to add this regulation to existing ones, right?

    Ultimately, the Feds have absolutely no authority over this issue per the Constitution, so any amount of wishing for positive outcomes is worth as much as used toilet paper.

  37. Caroline,

    Thank you for quite succinctly proving that you’re not worth arguing with. All you seem to want to do is oversimplify the arguments of your opponents so that any nuance that might cause cognitive dissonance for you goes out the window.

    When you’re capable of having an adult conversation, I’ll be here to explain that I don’t actually hate government, but rather believe that it can only do good in certain, limited circumstances.

    Ciao!

  38. Richard Aubrey says:

    Caroline,
    Let me try.
    The reason to oppose this is that the history of such things is, at best, an expensive wash. It includes intrusion on personal freedom. It requires more work by the admins of the various schools. It requires penalties for kids who bring junk food to school–which they will if it is not available in school–and penalties for enterprising youngsters who buy Baby Ruths by the case at Costco and sell them in the restrooms. And folks wo search the lunch bags and back packs.
    The result of such goings-on will be a net zero change in obesity. Plus all the work. One more “justified” intrusion into personal freedom based on the say-so of folks who think they know better.
    I think it was C. S. Lewis who remarked that the worst tyrant must rest from his exactions, from time to time, but those who tyrannize you for your own good never rest.
    And there are always the know-betters who don’t have enough to do to pass the time backing them up.
    I think Grover Norquist accurately described a political movement some years ago. It’s the “leave us alone coalition”.
    Now, if there were a prayer of changing the obesity situation…it would still not be justified.

  39. Richard Aubrey says:

    I should point out that having and selling drugs in school is illegal, too. You want to take some resources from that to chasing down kids with illegal Krispy Kremes?
    Rhetorical question.
    Of course not. We need MORE resources for the Krispy Kreme dealers.

  40. Quincy, just a couple of notes regarding your comment about BMI and life expectancy. The notion of a J-shaped BMI/mortality curve for adults is far from being settled science, and it certainly doesn’t apply to children. Here is an article discussing a recent study about childhood obesity and its correlation to future heart disease, e.g.

    http://on.wsj.com/hhm3g2

    I wish school districts and parents wouldn’t allow schools to serve children unhealthy garbage that jeopardizes their health. Alas . . .

  41. Richard Aubrey says:

    Tim.
    Concerned parents can talk to the school board about it.
    Downside is, this doesn’t require a federal bureaucracy.

  42. CarolineSF says:

    California already has a state law setting nutritional standards for foods sold in schools that, among other things, outlaws soda. My district, San Francisco Unified, has its own stricter standards. So the notion that it would be unconstitutional doesn’t hold water.

    Neither the state law nor SFUSD’s policy restricts foods that students bring from home or share without cost, to be clear. I understand that some districts do, though.

    So those of you who fear for the future of freedom can presumably relax.

  43. CarolineSF-
    As I’ve said, the Constitution fails to empower the FEDERAL (i.e. United States of America) GOVERNMENT to regulate education. I never stated anywhere that the Constitution limits the powers of the states in this regard.

    Personally, I’m all for the schools completely removing junk foods and machines… and offering one or two meals each day for lunch. You don’t need a federal regulation to achieve that.

  44. And I don’t fear necessarily for the future of freedom, but instead my wallet. Every new federal regulation costs taxpayers, and the feds need to learn restraint.

  45. Tim, I read the article. It calls out high BMI as one of the risk factors, but then lists three others that link a lot more closely to actual heart health. My point with the above was mainly that the science is still evolving on this and that some of the findings don’t conform to the ideals our current ruling elite have inherited from their European heritage.

    The pace of science is moving at an amazing rate, has been for the last 50 years. The law and regulation don’t move nearly as fast. As was pointed out above, we have a school lunch program designed to dish out high-calorie foods so that kids wouldn’t starve. Now, schools are facing the opposite issue and are bound by that old law.

    My point here is that this is an issue that needs to be resolved school by school, responding to the needs of each student body (no pun intended).

  46. Crimson Wife says:

    How about we stop using taxpayer dollars to subsidize the production of High Fructose Corn Syrup? That would improve nutrition in the U.S. while at the same time reducing the deficit. Win-win situation in my book…

  47. CarolineSF says:

    Just a reminder on how school food operations work. The junk food addressed by this proposed law is not part of the school meal program but part of competitive sales. It is true that the National School Lunch Program doesn’t set a limit on calories, but it does set a limit on fat, and de facto (due to the low funding) there’s a limit on portion size. So while the National School Lunch Program meals definitely need improvement, it’s the competitive food sales that this proposed law and others like them (including California’s existing regulations) address.

  48. Richard Aubrey says:

    Caroline.
    Precisely. And if the parents don’t like it, they can talk to the school board. Unless the need for intrusive ‘crats is the real issue.
    So what are you going to do when kids bring their own competition? Either for themselves or as a kind of retailer. Let’s see. I saw a modest sized Baby Ruth for a buck in a convenience store the other day. Bet they cost less than that in bulk at Costco. So, say the enterprising member of the distributive education club decides he can get by with, say, a 25% margin….
    And, kids, if we win the prize, we can have a veggie party with zero-fat dip! Won’t that be fun!?

  49. CarolineSF says:

    My kids’ middle school, Aptos Middle School in San Francisco, was is the forefront of this, when the school community created a pilot project banishing the soda and junk food sales starting in early 2003.

    Some kids did bring soda to sell. The principal banned that and enforced it. A few clandestine soda transactions were probably completed, but for the most part that just fizzled (so to speak).

    The school never banned bring-your-own junk food. The issue was sales of soda and junk to the student by the school community — either Student Nutrition Services in the a la carte lines, school departments in vending machines or fundraising sales. There was not a noticeable rise in students toting their own junk food, though certainly some did/still do.

    One immediate effect was reduced traffic in the counseling office in the afternoon, with fewer sugared-up and caffeinated kids acting up. Since then, Aptos’ API has also increased steadily. Obviously no one can attribute that to the healthier school food environment, but it did happen to correlate.