By Jodie Lynn
I am shocked at the amount of sugary products still offered to our children in the snack machines. In fact, there are three of them located in prominent spots throughout my children's small private school. Is it allowed because it is a private school and they are not governed by stricter health food laws? Are there any mandated health food laws when it comes to children and the snack machines? How do I go about bringing this topic up with the principal without appearing to be a complaining parent?
ANSWER FROM READER:
The parents at our children's private school had to practically beat the board of trustees, as well as the principal, over the head until they finally replaced the junk food vending machines with newer ones that contained healthy snacks. Until we persuaded other parents that this was a smart move for our children's health, we couldn't make a strong point. It took us almost seven months to get the school officials to at least try the healthier choices. The main reason is that vending machines bring in a ton of money for the school and they had good reason not to want to switch, especially since the current companies did not really offer nutritious snacks. Talk with other parents and hand out any printed material that shows statistics on the extreme difference that this change can make in your children's lives and well-being. - T. R. in Rhode Island, NY
Unless your children's school is federally regulated in that regard, the government cannot mandate anything. Therefore, this will have to be done by the school officials and the parents. However, if it is a topic near and dear to your heart, don't ever get the idea that you will be perceived as a nagging parent when it comes to your children's health. If your concerns are dismissed or balked at, you can actually contact various vending machine companies yourself, gather information and even schedule a time for a representative to speak with other parents and school officials. Even though it's considered a small company, one of the newest to have a higher than average success rate with their healthy food vending machines is Fresh Healthy Vending, located in San Diego, CA but distributing machines nationwide. They have plenty of nutritional snacks to offer, such as Kashi granola bars and Stonyfield Farm fruit smoothies, to name only two. See http://www.freshvending.com/ for more details. There are several more companies to choose from in addition to Fresh Healthy Vending. Business Week recently published an article on this very topic. See http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/jan2011/sb20110112_407787.htm for further details. Get your ducks in a row before asking for a meeting with the school decision makers and of course, have patience while not giving up.
CAN YOU HELP?
With the recent scare in powdered infant formula, how will moms who work outside the home or choose not to breastfeed find a safe alternative? Isn't there a simpler way to know about bacteria in the formula before it harms or kills another baby?
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