Last week, I was doing some reading at Swem and after a couple hours, I could no longer concentrate because I was so hungry. I decided to go down to Swem Cafe to get myself a cheap snack from the vending machines. Much to my dismay, the machines were only stored with various types of junk food- chips, cookies, Pop-tarts, candy bars-- you get the picture. Furthermore, water was the only healthy option for beverages, as all of the drink machines were full of soda. Juice was out of the question, as the only juice offered was not 100% juice, and merely "juice drinks" full of sugar. I subsequently grew extremely frustrated with the lack of healthy snacks and drinks available. This made me think about the food available to our elementary school students. After reading a CNN article titled "Guidelines forged to ban unhealthy items from schools," I realized that efforts are being made to encourage schools to change what stocks their vending machines. However, the latest nutrition initiative taken by former President Bill Clinton, does not require schools to change the food they offer. Five dominating snack food companies have agreed to encourage schools to buy healthy foods rather than catering to their students' cravings. Clinton acknowledges that "the plan's success will depend heavily on the participation of schools, which will continue to be free to buy whatever they like."
Although such initiatives are a step in the right direction, it leads me to wonder if more pressure should be put on schools to give students healthier options. The nation is undergoing a "childhood obesity epidemic" and limiting students' options prevents them from making healthy choices. If students spend about 7 hours a day in schools, how can we expect them to eat healthily if we do not actively push them to do so by limiting their options to healthy foods?