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Junking the Junk Food Machines in Schools

N.H. schools may offer healthier fare


The Associated Press
7/12/2004, 9:42 a.m. ET


NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Nashua school officials hope students soon will learn about nutrition from school vending machines, not just textbooks.

A School Board committee is recommending the schools junk their junk food machines, replacing soda, chips and candy bars with flavored water, trail mix and granola bars.

"The intent is to promote healthy foods in school every way we can," said Jeanette Kimball, the school district's food services director.

Under the plan, students also will say goodbye to just about every kind of ice cream offered at school, and start developing a taste for frozen yogurt or juice pops.

Some School Board members said the proposal could go even further.

One items on a list of food that could be sold in school vending machines or at the school store was Kellogg's Pop Tarts, not a favorite of board President Kim Shaw.

"I think we're kidding ourselves if we say we're going to be healthy if we' re seeing food like Pop Tarts," Shaw said. "Pop Tarts are not a healthy food. They're not."

The policy won't have much effect on school lunch menus because they have been becoming more healthy over the years, Kimball said. For instance, chicken nuggets are made from ground chicken breast and are baked, not fried. Hamburgers are made from a leaner cut of beef. Pizza is made with lowfat cheese.

"Now we're focusing on what they're eating if they're not eating school lunch," Kimball said.

Soda machines at the middle and high schools would sell only 100 percent fruit juices, water and flavored water during school hours. After school, they will also offer sports drinks.

The plan follows a nationwide survey of school vending machines by the Center for Science in the Public Interest that found that 75 percent of the drinks and 85 percent of the snacks sold are of poor nutritional value.

The Nashua policy says good food equals good grades.

"Scientific research has identified a positive relationship among adequate nutrition, physical activity and academic success," the policy states. "Moreover, poor nutrition can place students at a higher risk of diabetes, obesity and other health ailments."

Nashua is keeping pace with other school districts in the state and nation in its move toward healthier foods, said Kimball.

The policy will be up for a vote on July 19.