No Vending Machines in Schools

The Obama Administration will be asking Congress to restrict vending machines of sugary, high-fat snacks,  and high-calorie drinks in our children’s schools.

I say it is about time. But it will not be that easy, even with childhood obesity on the rise, which leads to the increase of childhood-onset  Type II Diabetes.

Why the big fight to get vending machines out of our kids schools, or at least taking the unhealthy stuff out? The answer is the money. Schools rely on vending machine profits to use in after-school programs. So does that mean that we need to sell our kids’ health down the river so the track team has sports jerseys? That seems to be the case.

It was not long ago when no schools had vending machines. There were none in my schools growing up in the 80′s. Looking back on it now, I am certain that I would have been an obese kid if there were. I was a snack junkie as a kid. A few times a week, I would venture out for a snack run for candy, pop, or maybe a slice of pizza. My pocket money was shared between my two kid vices of video games and snack foods. The thing about my snack run was that I had to either walk or ride my bike to the store to get them.

I grew up in the edge of the New Jersey suburbs, so the closest store was 2-3 miles from my house. That meant that my snack runs required at least a 4-6 mile bike ride. And if I wanted a slice of pizza and a visit to the video arcade, it was a ten mile round-trip by bike. Nowadays kids camp out in front of their computer, but we had the arcade. I figure all of my bike riding to get snacks helped keep me fit. My snacking had put an extra 10-15 pounds on me as a kid, but I was never obese.

But what would have happened if I had a ready supply of pop, candy, and snacks right out my classroom door? It is hard to say for sure, but I figure I would have had a bottle of soda and an ongoing bag of chips, or candy bar in my book-bag at all times. My every couple of days snack runs would have been replaced with several vending machine trips daily. Even though I was a snack and candy junkie, I never ate them during school time. Sure, I ate tater tots, and pizza in the cafeteria, but there was no soda, pastry, cookies, chips, candy or desserts offered.

Those 20-ounce sodas in the vending machine can be 250 calories and they can add up. If the average kid had just one of those a day  five days a week thats 1250 calories a week, 5000 a month, 60,000 a year. A pound of fat in excess calories is 3500. So that one soda a day of extra calories could create a 17 pounds weight gain in a year.

The lack of vending machines in my school most likely saved me from an unhealthy childhood. Today children have no such protection. Schools have entered into an unhealthy bargain with snack, and beverage companies for money, that in my opinion, should come from the public. I remember kids would come around to my house and ask for a booster donation for their teams. Now soda and snack companies are our sports team boosters, but at a price.

Hopefully there is the political will to reverse the vending machine trend. Kids deserve better.

Related Articles:

huffington post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-weissman/snack-attack-us-schools-s_b_244410.html

yahoo news
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100208/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_school_nutrition

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5 responses to “No Vending Machines in Schools

  1. There’s vending machines in my kids school – all they carry is water and healthy snacks. I’ve got no problem with vending machines in schools!

  2. OK. The legislative push is for healthier stuff in the vending machines like in the school you mentioned, but it is far from the norm.

  3. no offense to you, but i disagree with this taking away of vending machines. even taking the “unhealthy” snacks out. they can do that, but what kid isn’t going to want a treat once in a while. it’s the kids choice if they want something out of the vending machine. they should know how to treat themselves, right? do they realize that once they do this, that the profits the school had of making money off this will just shoot down?

  4. Again, the issue is not to remove vending machines entirely (I guess maybe the title needs an edit). I’m not sure I understand this concept of kids “treating” themselves “once in awhile”. I go to college, and I see how people behave when vending machines with unhealthy snacks and drinks are available. A meal becomes Coke and Cheetos. Now, I would argue that if you are over 18 you can and should be able to make choices for yourself. If choice is the issue, I would prefer, being a healthy eater myself, to have the CHOICE to eat something healthy out of the vending machines, which I currently do not.

    But this article is about children. And children need guidance to make good choices. Should we allow cigarette vending machines in schools? Maybe the kids could CHOOSE to occasionally TREAT themselves to a cigarette. I mean, some seniors are over 18… I’m sure you wouldn’t seriously entertain this idea. Obviously no one is suggesting that, but the point is, we have laws and policies in this country aimed at protecting children. And many of those laws treat adults and children differently, for the simple and obvious reason that children do not have the same level of ability to make wise decisions as adults. In actuality, the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain involved in decision-making does not fully develop until adulthood.

    I personally believe that public school is where we, as a nation, can and should set the tone for how we want our children to behave. This is done in many respects, from what we teach in the classroom, to punishing kids for getting into fights, to dress codes that don’t allow children and teenagers to wear inappropriately sexualized clothing. There is room for disagreement about the degree to which we regulate our children’s behavior, but vending machines are in fact a CHOICE we are making for our children. We can make the choice to have healthy offerings instead of unhealthy ones, because we are adults. We can guide our children toward appropriate choices, as we do in so many other facets of their lives.

  5. well i think you are wrong emily.. i am a highschool student and its not fair that theyre treating us like elementary students making choices for us ? ! i think we have enough with our parents.. and of course they are not going to put cigerattes in a school.. come on ? that is illegal, is eating a bag of hotcheetos illegal for a child to eat ? so dont go to the extreme because that is not reasonable.

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