Students need nutritious food for thought |

Students need nutritious food for thought

It’s a good thing the Colorado General Assembly is tackling the issue of nutrition in schools. We only wonder if the bill now under consideration will go far enough.Vending machine revenues often help administrators in struggling school districts pay for school supplies or programs that would otherwise fall by the wayside in tight financial times. We appreciate their dilemma, but the fact is, too many of them have essentially made deals with the devil on vending machines. Too often, the machines offer nothing but sugar-laden sodas and fat-laden snacks that arguably damage children’s health and their ability to learn.Since the current voluntary program has failed to control the amount of on-campus junk food, the General Assembly finally seems to be getting wise. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would force half of the items in school vending machines to be nutritious.This is a positive step, and we can only hope that, given more options and perhaps some coaching from home, children will select drinks and snacks with some nutritional value. Smart choices will help both their learning and their overall physical health.However, we can’t help wondering if vending machines should be allowed on school campuses at all. Schools are not, and should not be, venues for commercial activity and consumer marketing. We’d go so far as to say that, whatever the day-to-day mood on campus, administrators should think of public schools as learning “sanctuaries,” and promote learning in all their policy decisions. Vending machines do not promote learning on any level that we can see.Fortunately, as shown in a story in the Jan. 29 edition of the Aspen Times Weekly, schools in Aspen and Basalt do care about nutrition and are already trying to serve food a cut above the standard cafeteria fare. Our local children generally aren’t afflicted with obesity and other dietary problems as children are in other parts of the country.Still, anything state lawmakers can do to encourage nutritional food and good eating habits in our public schools is a good idea. Representatives have passed House Bill 1056 unamended, and we hope the Senate will follow suit. Call state Sen. Lewis Entz at 303-866-4871 and urge him to support the legislation.