Blanco pushing in session for healthy snacks in public schools

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE-A new bill being proposed by Gov. Kathleen Blanco aims to get the junk food and soda out of public school student’s hands and replace the snacks with healthier fare such as fruit juices and granola bars.

Not everyone is happy with the idea, especially- yeah, you guessed it- the students.

“I disagree,” Krista Tamplain, an eighth-grader at John L. Ory Magnet School bluntly announces when told of the proposed plan.

Her particular school does not have a selection of vending machines, but the students say that every Tuesday and Friday after lunch, the school holds “concession,” in which students have the opportunity to purchase snacks such as pickles, Skittles, Airheads and other candies.

Tamplain, as well as Joshua Brown and Kristen White, also eighth graders at John L. Ory, would like to keep it that way.

“When we’re in class and learning, people start to lose energy,” explains White, “We get candy to have more energy.”

When asked if that energy could instead come from an apple, she considered it.

“Well, we’re kids, we like candy,” she said.

The proposed law, which will be brought before the legislature in an upcoming session on April 25, specifies the only beverages to be sold in schools would be 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, unflavored water, and milk.

Snacks and desserts that exceed 150 calories per serving, save for seeds and nuts, as well as food of “minimal nutritional value” would also be outlawed.

The latter includes such snacks as hard candies, jellies and gums, and marshmallow candies.

Brown said he wants the schools to keep candy because it is incentive for the students to do better in their school work.

“Sometimes the teachers give us candy for doing good work,” he said. “We know we’re going to get rewarded with candy.

“If someone gave me peanut butter…,” Brown said, shaking his head, “I do not like peanut butter.”

Some recent reports are saying the students are not the only one with an opposition to the bill. Some school administrators are worried that money made off of selling candy to go toward school supplies could dwindle, and they will not be able to use snack brand names as sponsors for fundraisers.

Teri Noel, principal of John L. Ory, said that the concession is a PTO function that funds some purchases for the school, but they do not have any corporate sponsorships.

“We’ll just have to provide more healthy snacks, such as popcorn,” Noel said, “We’ll probably have to charge more because those things usually cost more.”

She said the cost could possibly affect sales initially, but if that is the only choice, then the kids will eventually purchase the healthy snacks.

Overall, Noel said she thinks the idea will help kids to develop healthy eating habits.

“It helps kids make healthy eating choices,” she said, “and it’s providing a good model.”

However, the students still wish for some exceptions.

“If we could chew gum,” Kristen Brown points out, “we wouldn’t want more and more because the gum would last. “Vegetables won’t last.”