Nutrition policy good idea, but shouldn't be forced

Tonight, the Carson City School District board will vote on whether to adopt a tough nutrition policy that will ban the sale of soda and other excessively fatty or sugary foods.

If ever there were a no-brainer, this may be it. But still we're stuck with a bad taste in our mouth from having the policy shoved down our throats by the feds.

The policy, which would be in place for the next school year, is aimed at reducing childhood obesity, which has tripled since 1970. Taking sodas and candy bars out of school vending machines won't fix that problem, but it will be a start.

Anyone who has ever dieted knows one of the most basic rules for success is making fatty and sugary foods inaccessible.

More important is the necessity that schools help students develop positive habits that will help them throughout their lives. Choosing healthy food and drink alternatives is an important lesson.

No matter where you turn, including TV commercials, fast-food restaurants or entertainment venues, the message is hammered endlessly to eat more and more junk food. Schools should not contribute to that message.

We don't like that the policy is essentially mandated by the federal government - if the board doesn't accept it, the district will lose funding for a lunch program that provides free or reduced-price meals for children from low-income families. Another federal mandate - the No Child Left Behind Act - has unfairly burdened our schools to their limits without providing any funding help.

For those parents who object, they can still send those foods to school. But then again, maybe it's time they made the same decision facing our school board and get the junk food away from our kids.

Good nutrition should start at home; choosing an apple over a cookie is one step in learning to make good choices in life. Choosing whether or not to implement a school nutrition policy should be a decision made at home, or at least locally - and one that should not be made under the treat of financial blackmail.


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