Reason Foundation

http://reason.org
http://reason.org/blog/show/federal-public-school-food-police-f

Reason Foundation

Out of Control Policy Blog

Federal Public School Food Police Fine Utah School $15k for Leaving Vending Machine Plugged in During Lunch.

Lisa Snell
May 17, 2012, 1:05pm

As "The Blaze" reports: 

A Utah high school is learning the hard way that the government is serious about nudging students away from food it doesn't want them to consume. Davis High School in the Salt Lake City area is having to fork over a whopping $15,000 in fines to the Feds because it accidentally sold soda through a vending machine during lunch.


Federal law requires the school to turn off its soda machines during the lunch period, which is 47 minutes a day. And Davis High school did turn off the machines in the lunch room. However, the school didn't realize that there was another machine in the school bookstore that wasn't being turned off. And when the food police realized it, the school was hit with a $0.75 fine per student for the duration of the offense. 

And this is especially unfair because all the evidence suggests that soda and snack bans in schools don't work. As the Washington Post and many others have reported:

Jennifer Van Hook and Claire Altman looked at a sample of 20,000 students who began kindergarten in 1998, and checked in on their height and weight in fifth and eighth grade. They couldn't find any significant link between higher obesity rates and schools that allowed vending machines selling snacks and soda. "The results suggest that the sale of competitive foods [which compete with traditional school foods, such as soda and snacks] in school is unassociated with weight gain among middle school children," they write.

Policies that limit the availability of candy bars, chips and soda have become popular in recent years; 23 states place some kind of restriction on what foods can be sold in schools. Why does this study find that such policies don't necessarily reduce childhood obesity? A lot of factors could be at play. Students that don't have access to soda in schools tend to increase their consumption of sugary drinks at home, a 2011 study in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found.

In addition, it turns out that like everyone else school kids are good at developing black markets when soda and snacks are banned. As this article explains: LA school district lunch program spawns thriving junk food black market. 


Lisa Snell is Director of Education


Print This