Wonderful New Federal Laws Ban Junk Food In Schools

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vending-machine-junkI love a good chocolate bar or Cheez-It from time to time, but I’m very happy that these new regulations passed Thursday about junk food in schools — with surprising bipartisan agreement.

The New York Times reports:

The Agriculture Department on Thursday effectively banned the sale of snack foods like candy, cookies and sugary drinks, including sports drinks, in schools, making it harder for students to avoid the now-healthier school meals by eating snacks sold in vending machines.

The new rules were required under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was passed by Congress in 2010 with broad bipartisan support. The law, supported by Michelle Obama and drafted with an unusual level of cooperation between nutrition advocates and the food industry, required the Agriculture Department to set nutritional standards for all foods sold in schools.

This seems like a great way to complement healthy eating habits at home, or also offset some of the negative habits children may be learning from their parents. I feel fortunate that my mom invested loads of time and effort into providing regular, healthy meals for me. She planted habits that I still have a tough time breaking — no sweet stuff or snacks before a meal, make sure to eat a hearty breakfast, try not to eat an ass-load of food before bed. I acquired a few bad habits and negative body image stuff from my parents, too, but overall I think they did a wonderful job of shaping me into a health-conscious adult.

But while I exercised willpower around junk at home, I wasn’t remotely immune to the allure of the junk at school. I memorized the location of every vending machine in my high school, and I went through a phase where I bought a package of peanut M&Ms every day around ten to eat during pre-calc and tide me over until lunch. Math is way better with chocolate involved anyway, amirite? But eating chocolate at ten in the morning wasn’t something I would ever, ever, ever do at home. So I imagine if this law had been in effect during my high school years, it would have never occurred to me to bring junk food from home to eat during math class. I would’ve just sat there and dealt with it, I guess!

I know these laws aren’t going to be the childhood obesity cure-all some of the media seems to think it is. But I feel like it can only be a step in a positive direction, right?

(photo: Lissandra Melo / Shutterstock)