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The Seattle Times reports that the Seattle School Board, faced with a cash shortfall that threatens the existence of numerous programs and after-school activities, is considering a relaxation of the strict vending machine regulations that banned the selling of unhealthy foods.

According to the story, “The policy, approved in 2004 — before any state or federal regulations on school nutrition had been established — put Seattle on the cutting edge of the fight against childhood obesity.

“But board members now acknowledge they probably went too far. The restrictions, which are more strict than the now-crafted state and federal nutrition guidelines, allow only products such as milk, natural fruit juice, baked chips and oat-based granola bars.”

The Times notes that the school system generated $214,000 in vending profits in 2001 ... this this year, has made just $17,000.

"It doesn't make any sense at all," says school board member Sharon Peaslee. "We definitely need to modify the policy so we can have all these new food and beverage possibilities in our schools and you can make money on them."
KC's View:
I am actually sort of conflicted on this one. I feel bad for school systems that are caught in a cash crunch, often unable to pay their teachers what they deserve, provide them with ample supplies, or even offer the kinds of programming that they should because of funding issues.

On the other hand, I do think that one of the things that schools ought to be teaching is proper nutrition, and that food offerings in cafeterias and vending machines ought to represent an educated point of view.

In the end, though, I think what schools ought to be encouraging is independent thought and the ability to make intelligent choices. (And, of course, they can only do that if they are supported by parents who want their children to be capable of independent thought and intelligent choices.) Vending machines are but a small part of how this is reflected in a school ... but sometimes you have to pay attention to the little stuff.