Letters to the Editor

Thursday, April 24, 2003 at 1:00am

Education's not about food police


As the president of the Tennessee Soft Drink Association, I want to thank The City Paper for its intelligent and reasoned editorial April 18 ("Parents, not state, should regulate kids' diets") concerning a proposed ban of certain items sold in school vending machines (SB 1788/HB 1723). We read with interest the response of Nan Allison's letter (April 22, "Nutritionist: Give good food options") to your editorial and feel compelled to respond to her observations, reasoning and remarks.

Allison's logic attempts to link the ban in selling pornography, tobacco and alcohol in schools with the need to ban specifically soft drinks in schools. That analogy is extreme to say the least. We find fault with this legislation and Allison's notions on the causes of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

The proposed legislation not only attempts to establish a "food police" by banning certain foods from school vending machines but also further requires certain products to be sold in vending machines. Soft drinks could not be sold anywhere in a school, including a teachers' lounge. Parents could not bring doughnuts to their child's classroom as a treat. Fund-raising candy and Girl Scout cookies could not be sold during the school day. A child could not share certain food items with a friend during the day.

The restrictions or banning certain foods, in the absence of a program teaching diet and nutrition, flies in the face of the concept of education. Further, as a recently diagnosed Type 2 diabetic, I have been taught that a reasonably balanced diet coupled with regularly scheduled physical activity mitigates the disease. There currently are no requirements for any physical activity through the State Department of Education K-12.

Last, besides banning certain products in vending machines - including various snack foods - the proposed legislation would allow the continued selling of hamburgers, french fries, pizza and potato chips by the school nutrition program, while still not requiring even one minute of exercise.

Allison shares the success of the Monroe County school system selling dairy products via vending machines. She fails to share that Monroe County was able to do this without any state legislative restrictions. Any and all school districts could do the same program as Monroe County without any new legislation.

The truth of the matter is that many school systems are not just selling "healthful foods" through their cafeterias. They must sell burgers, fries and corn dogs to be competitive and profitable. Vending machines in schools not only sell various products, but through public/private partnerships, they provide financial resources for various programs that school budgets don't fund.

Our industry isn't anti-nutrition. We are for exercise and nutrition education. We think the concept of food police in schools isn't what education is about or what parents want. Good health starts with good food and good exercise. Schools should require education and serve nutrition.



Article proves need to fire folks


The article by your Ron Wynn April 14 ("CBS producer's antiwar commentary gets him fired," p. 2) was conclusive proof that Ed Gernon and Chris Rock should be fired, and even more that The City Paper should fire Wynn. I will no longer read your paper. It is now like The Tennessean, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, etc.



Abandoning U.N. is anachronistic


By not kowtowing to U.S. demands regarding Iraq, the U.N. Security Council placed the whole United Nations in the direct line of fire from U.S. isolationists, as so clearly illustrated in Jim Sandman's April 21 letter, "Get U.S. out of United Nations."

I pray Sandman is in a small minority of extremely myopic, nearsighted Americans who see our national interest as unconnected to the interests of other nations. After two devastating world wars, the United Nations was created, with major U.S. backing, to help usher us into an era of international responsibility and maturity. Clearly it's no more perfect than any one government, including the United States', but it is evolving.

To abandon the United Nations now to bullyism would be a return to pre-U.N. imperialism and Wild West mentality, not how responsible nations, especially the United States, should be perceived as we proceed into the 21st century. We need greater international cooperation, not less.

As the United States' consciousness as a member of the global community matures, Sanders' idea - and, sadly, apparently that of the Bush administration - of a nation that can go it alone and just do whatever we damn well please in the world will be increasingly seen as the truly anachronistic relic that it is.



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Filed under: City Voices