If the only choice is carrots, kids will eat carrots
IN VENDING MACHINE NEWS, there’s actually a surprisingly hopeful finding. Thanks to the keen eye of Margaret Roach, my friend/mentor/idol, I recently read a Grist.org article where a high school in Ohio quickly turned junk foodies into carrot crunchers…by installing a baby carrot vending machine. Turns out, kids like snacks. If the available snacks are carrots, so be it.
The Grist goes on to point out the political state of affairs, that being, funding for the National School Lunch Program is about to expire, leaving kids and schools dangerously exposed to the financial realities of hocking junk for profit. Despite the fact that my hippy upbringing didn’t allow nearly as many Doritos as I wanted, and I never once opened my lunch pail to see a shiny Ding Dong (something I longed for desperately, so desperately), I still think it’s creepy to sell stuff like this to young people.
From the looks of this excerpt from Grist, it appears that I am not alone.
The point is, reforming school food isn’t rocket science. If creative efforts are made to put healthy foods in schools and to get junk food out, kids’ diets will improve. What we’re really fighting over is money and who decides what our kids get to eat. Right now, it’s the big processed-food manufacturers and their allies on Capitol Hill who have that power, at least during school hours. Keeping junk food (oh, sorry, I mean “competitive foods“) in schools has become a de-facto way to privatize school-food costs. Schools make money on junk food so that they can afford the costs the government doesn’t pick up in providing free or low-cost lunches to kids. And Big Food loves the existing system because it hooks kids on their brands from as young an age as possible.
Guess the Big Food guys missed their share of Saturday morning cartoons in the 70s…