Archive for the ‘Site News’ category

Starting a new type of post today

We all have ideas, some of them great, others, well, not so great. I think it might be fun to get some of them out of my head for use by anyone who thinks they may be able to make something out of them. I’m calling these posts “Slices of Life”. As I compile a collection, I’ll develop an archive page specifically for them.

I guess even waistlines are bigger in Texas

A new law in Texas attempting to supersede existing nutritional policy in the State is specifically designed to enable students to buy food the state has previously deemed unfit for sale in schools.

Last spring, though, TDA got serious and imposed fines totaling $73,000 on eight Houston high schools for illegal competitive food sales.* Those eye-popping fines made headlines and local TV news, and apparently motivated someone to head up to the state house in Austin to successfully lobby on the issue.

Alluding to the recent TDA fines imposed in Houston, Republican House Representative Ken King introduced in the last legislative session HB1781 which “ensure[s] that Texas high schools have the freedom” to continue junk food fundraisers and which expressly forbids the TDA from fining those schools based on the food’s nutritional content. Six Republican and two Democratic representatives joined King in co-sponsoring the bill, which ultimately passed and was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry on June 14. The law is now in effect statewide.

Where it gets sloppy is that the language used in the legislation, was most likely, incorrectly written.

Whoever drafted HB1781 decided to use some legislative shorthand to describe the types of foods that high schools may continue to sell. But instead of referring back to the state regulations the bill is trying to thwart, HB1781 instead allows Texas high schools to sell “foods of minimal nutritional value” (FMNV), as that term is defined by federal law.

The federal definition of FMNV harks back to the 1970s when there were virtually no rules regarding competitive food and the government was trying to keep the “worst of the worst” out of school cafeterias during meal times. FMNV is defined generally as foods providing less than five percent of the daily value of certain nutrients and specifically as: Sodas and other carbonated beverages; water ices; chewing gum; and certain types of candy–hard candy, jellies and gums, marshmallows, fondants, licorice, spun candy, and candy-coated popcorn.

So while the Texas legislature was trying to allow high schools to sell fast food entrees at lunch, its sloppy drafting has inadvertently limited high schools to selling only a few foods–basically soda and candy–identified by the federal government over forty years ago as the least healthy for our children.

These regulations will most certainly conflict with new Federal regulations when they come into effect when next year’s school year starts.

They’re fighting to ensure protection of personal freedoms for the intellectually immature at the expense of children’s health (data confirms that school nutritional programs are benefiting children’s health). Why is it that civil libertarians put most of their efforts in fighting for the stupidest, most reckless legislation, when there are obvious areas with public support that seem to be of much greater concern? Immigration, drug policy, and government privacy intrusion come to mind.