Following the criticism of students and faculty in schools across the U.S., a school board in Georgia recently expressed its displeasure with a new law that strictly regulates what snacks students may purchase from on-campus vending machines and other sources outside of the cafeteria.
Making its opinion official, the Marietta Board of Education voted at its latest meeting to pass a resolution declaring that the federal government does not have the authority to dictate what local schools offer kids as snacks. While many other districts are similarly critical of the lunchroom restrictions now being enforced in schools enrolled in the federal nutrition program, Superintendent Emily Lembeck said her beef is not with that section of the law.
Since the district receives funding to provide lunches, she said the government has every right to dictate what it is allowed to serve. To address the effect the law is having outside of the cafeteria, however, Lembeck noted that the board supports a statewide initiative allowing schools to sell currently unauthorized food items throughout the year on a limited basis.
Not only does she see the law as an impediment to children being allowed to make certain decisions on their own; Colburn also recognized the drastic impact such restrictions will have on fundraising programs. Since the regulations are not limited to vending machines, any foods or snacks sold to raise money for extracurricular programs or charity will be off-limits if the product being sold does not comply to the law’s strict guidelines.
Board member Tom Cheater spoke for the group in decrying the effects of the law’s prohibitive dietary restrictions.
“Students spend approximately 180 days in school each year,” he explained, “and don’t need Washington making it a joyless experience by ‘legislating away’ their opportunity to have an occasional doughnut or candy bar.”
Leigh Colburn, the principal at Marietta High School, asserted that the teenagers she sees every day are “perfectly capable of making these kinds of decisions for themselves.”
Sponsors of such overarching regulation, including first lady Michelle Obama, however, view the issue of adolescent obesity as something that needs to be addressed by compulsory legislation.
The one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition angered a number of parents who recognize that different kids need different amounts of food to remain healthy.
The Marietta Daily Journal cited one mother who brought up such a concern.
“What about athletes who need more calories? This rule is much more far-reaching than most realize,” she said.
BCN editor’s note: This article first appeared at Western Journalism.