Let’s Move- delicious food out of schools?

Megan R.

Senior Editor

As Woodstock High School students ring in the new school year, they cannot help but notice the abundance of new that can be found all around. For the six hundred plus freshmen, it is the school that is new to them. To the seasoned sophomores, it is clearly all of the freshmen. However, to the veteran upperclassmen, or to any school food connoisseur, there is a more serious change to the school since last May. In the past, Woodstock High School students have had the privilege of satisfying mid-meal hunger pains with quick, inexpensive nourishment from the vending machines. For students who stay up until 3 AM finishing a project, only to forget the most important meal of the day, there is a saving grace waiting in the rotunda to get them through the day. Or at least…there was. Up until this year, Woodstock High School sold Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits to students in the morning before first period. With the implementation of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids (HHFK) Act, this is no longer accessible in schools.

As part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, the HHFK Act was signed into law in 2010. The mission of the Let’s Move initiative is to help eliminate childhood obesity in America. Through television and computer ads, Mrs. Obama has encouraged kids to get out and get active, but regulating the private sale of food through the HHFK Act has brought this initiative to the next level. This act adds new restrictions to the food schools sell outside of the lunchroom, most prominently from vending machines. As part of this act, the “Smart Snacks in School” proposal was passed early this year and has since been implemented in schools across the country. This part of the act restricts schools from selling any food that is not low-fat, low-sugar, and vending MR 2under 200 calories. As a result, Woodstock High School has had to do away with candy bars, cookies, and Chick-fil-A biscuits. For many students this is an outrage; not only has this act removed access to quick snacks throughout the day but also the access to a decent breakfast in the morning. Senior Lauren Michel comments, “It’s not just the vending machines; I want my coffee and biscuits back. Everything that has made this school individual has been stripped away.” For athletes especially, the removal of Chick-fil-A has made mornings a struggle. Despite the sugar content and calorie count, the breakfast that students used to be able to purchase in the mornings was protein-packed and filling at least until lunch.

School systems are also upset by this change. The profits made by the schools through vending machines or private vendors was used to fund special activities for students. At Woodstock High School this money was used to pay for the Wood’s fan bus to away football games. With Dr. Paul Weir, WHS principal, expecting a 40-60% decrease in revenue from the vending machines, students will have to drive themselves to away games or simply not go. While the idea of healthier options for students is respectable, the effects are far from it. Students have said that the removal of “unhealthy options” has not encouraged them to eat healthier but rather to bring the “unhealthy” food into school another way. The way this act was written only restricts the food sold in schools, not to any food brought into school and consumed freely. Not only have schools lost money from this, food companies have as well – not the major food companies like Coca-Cola, Mars, or Nestle, who helped write and lobby for the passing of this law, but the smaller scale businesses. The international food industries are hardly affected by this law. The revenue from school vending machines is a speck of dust in the grand scheme of things. If anything, removing their products from schools will only increase their sales in stores; however, Chick-fil-A did not help pass the law. While students are losing valuable nutrition, these businesses are losing revenue involuntarily.

The idea behind the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids act was intended to be beneficial, but it appears that the execution and implementation were not clearly thought out. At this point, the act is not encouraging healthy eating, but motivating rebellion. In order to change the way kids eat, the government should start with the way that the food is produced: put stricter regulations on ingredients rather than punishing kids for eating what is available to them.

 

 

 

 

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