Unexpected Consequences

I alluded to this blog post in an earlier post last week. A post about not wasting bananas of all things.

Over the past several years, the news media has made a bit of a fuss about a certain public figure and her opinions about nutrition in public schools. In fact, her opinions have been supported by many in and out of the field of nutrition. I, for one, will not try to argue that I personally am qualified to declare school lunches nutritional enough. In fact, I was often so hungry by lunchtime I barely took the time to identify the food, let alone consider its nutritional value.

That aside, a related quandary was why in the world were there ever vending machines selling junk food allowed into schools? In many cases, they were introduced into school environments as passive fundraising opportunities. The objections came from the quality of the snacks – junk food only. Vending machines selling even marginally healthy snacks, e.g. nuts, granola bar, juice, fruit, etc. could be argued for in some circles. Consequently, it came as no big surprise to many when they were taken out of most (if not all) schools as a result of highly public figures speaking out against them, bolstered by the cries of outraged parents and dieticians everywhere.

So far, this doesn’t sound like a bad thing, does it? Now, go to your local middle school and stand by the trash can in the cafeteria and watch what the children do to get their ‘chip fix’ now. They take the lunch directly to the trash can, keep the chips and throw everything else away – the fruit, the milk, the entrée, everything! Sure, not every child does this, but even if 20% of the children do this in 50% of the schools, there’s enough food going in the dumpsters every day to feed a good percentage of the food-insecure in those same communities.

Then, the children leave the cafeteria to find the Booster Club, Sports Teams, Cheerleaders, Science Club or some other club selling chocolate bars, popcorn, pizza, nachos or any of a myriad of junk food in the halls to raise funds for their many worthy causes. The same halls where the vending machines used to stand doing the same thing – raising funds for worthy causes at the school.

Could anyone have seen this coming? Is there anything that can be done to fix it? I certainly don’t have the answers, but I do have a question: Were the vending machines really that big of a deal when compared to kids throwing away their lunches as a means to getting a bag a chips?

Remember, waste not, want not

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