Washington is going on the offensive. No, this isn’t another bailout. U.S. Senators want to give candy in vending machines the boot from schools. And I say, it’s about time. Leave it to mom and dad to pack a Snickers if they want to.
A bill was just introduced that would require schools in the U.S. to provide healthier options in order to fight the childhood obesity epidemic.
Senators Tom Harkin and Lisa Murkowski said their bill would allow the U.S. Agriculture Department to establish “common-sense nutrition standards” for food and beverages sold in school vending machines.
While school meals must comply with U.S. dietary guidelines, there are no rules on snacks sold outside of school lunchrooms. That seems kind of strange.
Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees school lunch and breakfast programs.
“Poor diet and physical inactivity are contributing to growing rates of chronic disease in the United States,” said Harkin. “We must take preventative action now.”
An estimated 32 percent of kids in the U.S. are overweight, and 16 percent are considered obese, at risk for serious health problems.
Harkin and Murkowski (a Democrat and Republican respectively) have offered similar legislation before. Maybe they will get a more sympathetic ear from the new administration.
Consumer and health advocacy groups including the American Dietetic Association, American Heart Association and the Center for Science in the Public Interest support the legislation.
“It’s intrusive for the federal government to establish requirements beyond the programs that they fund, particularly when states are addressing the issue,” says Reginald Felton of the National School Boards Association. “If local boards want to restrict they should.”
He also noted that some schools rely on snack sales to help cover costs. So, we make ends meet at the expense of our children’s health?