Ronald Reagan famously said the scariest words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” As the government focuses on childhood obesity, better diets and exercise are they losing sight of the big picture? Are they using common sense?
A high school in Utah recently was fined $15,000 by the federal government. It seems vending machines that hold carbonated beverages or “junk food” are not to be sold during the school lunch period. While the school had locked up all vending machines in the cafeteria there were some found unlocked and available for purchase in another area of the campus.
The high fine paid by the school affects its budget causing a cut of the Arts program. Studies have shown that Arts programs increase literacy skills.
Is the government using common sense? Students who bring soft drinks or candy to school were not restricted from eating it during their lunch. Of note by the school principal, is that while candies like Skittle’s were banned from lunchtime sales Snicker’s were allowed. Why? Because the Snicker’s candy bar contains nutritious peanuts. Where is the common sense in this argument?
This week friends in Pennsylvania noted that their children were mandated to exercise two laps each day after lunch. These laps were incorporated into the recess period which previously had been ‘free time’ for the children. No one argues the benefit of exercise but children who ate slow and didn’t complete their laps were sent to the principal’s office. Another friend stated that her children’s school similarly was incorporating an exercise program into their day. However, the children were not allowed to run on the school campus and so were required to walk their laps. Exercise is linked to better school performance. Still, one has to wonder how much common sense is being used? Why not move the daily exercise to first thing in the morning so the student learning is improved for the whole day?
No one argues that nutritious meals and exercise will benefit students. But one might question that an agency which still counts pizza as a vegetable might better leave some of these decisions to the parents.