Show Them The Money: When Being Healthy Isn’t Cost-Effective

It appears that a school in Seattle is regretting it’s total ban of ‘junk food’ because it’s not making enough money off the healthy stuff. Surprisingly (and by “surpisingly” I mean, DUH!) most teenagers aren’t interested in eating granola bars and Baked Lays (I’ve had Baked Lays, by the way, and that’s reason enough to never eat chips again—just saying).

…In 2001, before the junk-food ban was passed, high-school associated student body (ASB) governments across the city made $214,000 in profits from vending machines, according to district data. This year, they’ve made $17,000.

The district promised in 2006 to repay ASBs for the revenue they lost because of the policy. But it never did. So the ASB organizations — which subsidize athletic uniform and transportation costs, support student clubs, hold school dances and fund the yearbook and newspaper, among other expenses — have had to cancel programs and ask students to pay significantly more to participate on athletic teams and in school clubs.

Hmmm, I wonder what that school board was thinking? Surely they didn’t think other schools in the area would continue with such an idea. I mean, the moment being healthy stops being cost effective, it’s out the window for most businesses and, trust me, some schools are run precisely like a business.

I’ve actually seen one of those “healthy” vending machines at my daughter’s dance studio and, I have to tell you, it’s a welcome change for me as a mother. I often bypassed anything coin operated because I knew no good could possibly come of inserting my money into any company’s vending machine, particularly if I had any designs on eating a wholesome, nutritious, snack.

That said, I walk the fence where certain acts of government are concerned because while I can applaud a government-related fitness initiative (like the one Michelle Obama is crusading for), I don’t feel it’s the governments responsibility to tell us what we can or cannot eat.

Let me clarify that a bit, though. I am all for offering better (by better, I mean healthier) options, however.

For instance, I think there’s great value in adding more leafy vegetables to school lunch menus as opposed to always trotting out the processed fare. Even more, why not give elementary schoolchildren the option of drinking water in addition to the standard milk offereing? Some milks, as pointed out by Jamie Oliver on the now-canceled “Food Revolution” are just as bad as any soft drink you buy.

In short, why not try encouraging healthier choices by offering healthier options? Just a thought.

But, I digress.

It seems to me that this particular high school shot a bit high and missed the larger target: food education.

How about allowing health classes that not only concentrate on the human body, but also on the effects of certain foods on said body; delve into topics like portion size, recommended daily allowances (RDA) for the more important nutrients (as well as where to obtain them), and moderation (a particularly effective lesson when speaking of just about anything). All could be a beneficial add to a school district looking to make positive gains in banning the mass consumption of junk food.

Quite honestly, I think the more important matter should be addressed with this little overlooked point in the article, “The district promised in 2006 to repay ASBs for the revenue they lost because of the policy. But it never did.”

Sounds to me like the district simply needs to write a check and do what they promised, then everyone can be happy again—at least until is rains. 

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