Wednesday, February 02, 2005

This doesn't make sense... unless something is missing from the story I'd think the vending industry would jump at a chance to be part of the solution.

Yesterday, a nutrition study released by the Arizona Department of Education said "Schools can make as much money selling healthy foods as they can pushing sugar and fat on students". Today,
Companies that make money selling candy and sugared sodas to kids are moving to kill proposals to limit the sale of junk foods in public schools. Todd Elliott, president of the Arizona Automatic Merchandising Council, said the proposal unfairly targets his members, who make their living from the vending machines they operate.
If they can make as much money who cares? They obviously don't think they can make as much money despite the study, or they haven't read the study... Essentally someone isn't being honest. John Moody, lobbyist for the Arizona Soft Drink Association
...dismissed the new study as "flawed." He said the pilot project studied too few schools - only eight - and three of these do not have vending machines. He also said measuring only three months of pre-change sales against five months of sales with different items is hardly enough time to draw any meaningful conclusions.
"State School Superintendent Tom Horne said their fears are unwarranted..."
Tucson soft drink bottler George Kalil said he's concerned the bill would limit drink choice and push juice and milk - which contain sugar and possibly fat - on students. "I despise the concept of misusing the words 'empty calorie' - you could call water an empty calorie," said Kalil, who has contracts with schools in the Phoenix area. "It's very difficult to go through life eating what someone else wants you to eat."
Horne says "...the state is entitled to set certain standards."
School boards want voice Tucson Unified School District member Joel Ireland said that while he understands the argument against junk food in schools, school board members should be the ones to weigh that against revenue the food generates for schools and make the call. "I really do believe this is a decision that ought to be made as close to the school site as possible," Ireland said. Schools wouldn't be able to keep kids from bringing soda from home. But Horne, a 24-year member of the Paradise Valley school board, said the state is entitled to set certain standards. He said it is no different from the Legislature mandating what students need to know to graduate or a ban on hiring convicted child molesters. Hanging in the balance is Anderson's plan to ban the sale of sugared sodas "and all other foods of minimal nutritional value," beginning next school year. "I'm pleased that diet sodas have not been restricted in the current proposals," Kalil said. "I believe if we're going to try to teach good habits to young people, then we ought to be giving them the opportunity to develop a habit they can use throughout life." Elliott said what kids consume in schools is only a fraction of their daily intake. He said the real solution is health and physical education. Anderson's bill will be competing with another proposal by Rep. Amanda Aguirre, D-Yuma. Aguirre said her legislation, like Anderson's, would ban the sale of certain types of foods from vending machines and snack bars. But it would leave the details of how far to go to local school boards, give them an extra year to study the issue and exempt high schools.
I think is clear that children don't always make the best choices, after all they are children. Providing healthier alternatives is a good idea, it's just too bad it requires going up against the vending industry. I have a sneaky suspicion that their profit margins aren't the same for the healthier alternatives... you have to take a shorter shelf life into acount when comparing soda to milk and milk is going to cost the vendor more... too bad! I'd rather my child take in fat and sugar from milk, juice, and nuts rather than candy and soda... it's not the fat and sugar that are bad it's how refined they are!

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