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Reuters reports that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) hopes that when the US Congress reauthorizes child nutrition programs later this year, it will give the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to regulate all food sold in the nation’s public schools, including in vending machines.

This approach reportedly is endorsed by the Obama administration. However, the administration also concedes that there has been some push back from school districts that depend on revenue from vending machines and are afraid that this could go away if all the sell is healthy food.

Harkin, who has long been an activist in the area of childhood obesity, introduced a bill earlier this year that would set nutritional standards for food sold out of school vending machines. He says that his goal is to make sure that efforts elsewhere to curb youth obesity levels in the US are not undermined by the selling of “junk food” in vending machines.
KC's View:
It seems to me that we may be getting to the point where even liberals are going to begin thinking that you just can't keep regulating everything from the federal level … that at some point, you have to allow districts some level of autonomy and trust them to do the right thing.

On the other hand, concerns about push back suggest that a lot of districts are going to identify the maintaining of funding levels as the right thing, as opposed to sending a consistent message to kids about nutrition and health.

The problem is that so many of these issues are considered in a vacuum. Schools may not be teaching kids in an entertaining and engaging way about food and health and nutrition, so it doesn’t matter what they sell in vending machines and cafeterias. Or, they tell kids that they ought to eat healthier, and they sell slop in cafeterias.

It is all part of an educational system that seems to grow more and more dysfunctional. My son once suggested that the best teachers are the ones who teach the kids, as opposed to the ones who teach the subject. I’ve always thought that this is a rare insight into a system that focuses more on tests than teaching, that values grades more than actual learning.