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Jim Mone/AP

Some Georgia Schools Stop Selling Junk Food

November 04, 2008 09:58 AM
by Lindsey Chapman
To protect the federal funding they receive from the National School Lunch Program, some Georgia schools will stop selling junk food to kids.

The End of Junk Food

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Schools in Clayton County, Ga., are ridding their campuses of junk food during school hours.

By Nov. 7, kids won't be able to buy cookies, sodas, pizza and a few other foods when classes are in session. Vending machines will be locked; teachers didn't even hand out candy on Halloween.

School officials have implemented these changes to protect the federal funding they receive as part of the National School Lunch Program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture banned non-nutritious breakfasts and lunches in June 2006. When investigators found that some Clayton County schools were violating guidelines and selling less healthy food to kids, they threatened to withhold 40 percent of meal funding, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Clayton schools receive $37 million.

"It has taken us awhile to get this cleaned up," Clayton schools spokesman Charles White told the paper. "But we’re now in compliance."

Celebration Consternation

Celebrating a child’s birthday by bringing sweets to school is causing problems in Minnesota, and some school officials are trying to put an end to the matter.

Not every parent can afford to supply birthday treats for an entire class, which has led to behavioral issues with some kids. And with mounting health concerns such as obesity and food allergies, sugary snacks in schools are discouraged.

Despite this reasoning, the ban doesn’t sit well with all parents. “I kind of struggle with that because, come on, a birthday is a celebration,” one mother told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Worldwide, educators are taking a more proactive approach to encouraging healthy nutritional habits for their students. Some schools in Australia have also banned birthday parties in their classrooms. “The boys can always enjoy a birthday cake with family and friends outside of school time,” one school newsletter stated. A school administrator explained to The Sydney Morning Herald that such policies are more respectful to students with allergies.

Background: Schools and childhood obesity

Schools have increasingly become the focal point for helping to combat childhood obesity worldwide. A recent report indicates that 61 percent of school districts in Arkansas have implemented policies against allowing junk food to be sold in school vending machines. To track students’ health progress, numerous schools are measuring the Body Mass Index (BMI) of students.

A new government initiative in England aims to work with parents to help them address childhood obesity problems. As part of a new national measuring program, schools will record each student’s height and weight and send a letter to parents to notify them if their child has a weight problem. The country has changed its previous policy of only sending this type of information to parents if it was requested.

Amy Wehrfritz, a writer for the Silicon Valley Moms Blog, said her daughter’s school in England has taken to examining the contents of students’ lunch boxes to see what kids are eating for lunch. Those with healthy meals are praised and have their names placed in a drawing to win a fruit basket at the end of the month.

Wehrfritz said rewarding kids who have already made healthy choices “is a bit like preaching to the choir,” while scolding the other children “is bordering on harassment.”

Reference: Childhood obesity, nutrition resources

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