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Students dismayed at food restrictions
Monday, July 1, 2013
By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer
“In the daytime I’m Mr. Natural
“Just as healthy as I can be
“But at night I’m a junk food junkie
“Good Lord, have pity on me.”
— Larry Groce, “Junk Food Junkie,” 1976
The Lord may have pity on the junk food junkies of the world, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not.
The USDA on Thursday announced new restrictions for public schools that will replace “junk foods” that are high in fat, sugar and salt with healthier alternatives in school vending machines, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
Potato chips, cookies and soft drinks will be things of the past. Instead, low-fat tortilla chips, granola bars and 100 percent fruit juice will be in machines nationwide.
The new restrictions, which will not take effect until the 2014/2015 school year, are partly designed to close a loophole in the USDA’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. While that act helps ensure that students receive healthy lunches at school, it does not restrict what schools put in vending machines, the AP reported.
On Friday, a group of area students who are members of the Boys & Girls Club of the Blue Ridge talked about the new regulations.
While a few thought the new regulations were a good idea, they remained realistic about how effective the restrictions would be at keeping junk food out of the hands of students.
“I think it’s really healthy for the kids, but it probably won’t be successful,” said Dominique Ramos, who attends school in Henry County. “Most kids really don’t eat healthy these days.”
Sophia Esdaile, who also attends county schools, was not in favor of the change.
“I don’t like it,” she said. “I like having Pepsi and Doritos and Mountain Dew and all that stuff.”
County student Ca’Daydra Waller agreed, although she admitted that she does like the 100 percent fruit juice requirement.
Two students said they feel the restrictions are unfair to students who already are saddled with rules regarding what they are allowed to eat at lunch time.
“I don’t like it, because we should have the choice whether to go to a vending machine or go to the cafeteria if we bring our own money,” said Eyann Martin, who attends the school in Martinsville.
Added county student Dylan Forlines, “When we go to the cafeteria, we’ve already got to get (either) milk or water, so I think we should be able to go get a (soda) drink from the machines.”
A loophole to the new regulations still remains, according to the AP: any food that students bring to school is exempt from the rules.
“I honestly think that it would just be a big opportunity for somebody to bring stuff in from Sam’s Club and sell it and make money,” said Alexis Adams, who attends Carlisle School. “When I was in public school, there were a lot of people that would get on the bus and sell (snacks) in the morning and at lunch and after school, and they were making a killing.”