The Pennsylvania State Board of Education is “weighing” the benefits of eliminating unhealthy foods from school vending machines, cafeterias and fundraisers to combat childhood obesity.
As the board holds hearings on the subject, students are already expressing their displeasure.
“I buy French fries almost everyday, they can’t take them away,” senior Krista Conlin said.
Don’t fuss about losing fries just yet, Penn Manor’s cafeteria already switched to zero trans fat oil about four years ago when they got a whiff of the direction government was going in its efforts to slim kids down.
Penn Manor cafeteria employee Sherlyn Wolf said, “Our food that requires oil has zero trans fat, due to the switch the school made about four years ago for health reasons. The margarine blend we used to make desserts like pies, cakes and cookies have one gram of trans fat.”
They may have to cut a little more with the new regulations.
“Food items containing vegetable shortening, margarine or any kind of partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil unless the label required on the food, pursuant to applicable federal and state law, lists the trans fat content as less than 0.5 grams per serving,” the regulations state.
Randy Wolfgang, Penn Manor’s Food Services Coordinator, is aware of the changes being proposed by the state. If the proposal passes, Pennsylvania will be one of eight states that are changing the nutrition and physical endurance guidelines of school students.
“As the rules change, the food manufacturers will change to produce lower fat in foods,” said Wolfgang. “The regulations wouldn’t necessarily replace (all) cafeteria foods; it will just reduce the size proportions. For example, the big cookies would be down-sized.”
Many Penn Manor students are not happy with the new proposed regulations.
But news of a down-sized cookie is not any more popular than the idea of cutting back on lemonades or deep-fried food.
“A lot of students spend more money on cookies and fries than anything else sold at our cafeteria lunches,” said junior, Vennessa Nougeras. “What’s the point of a “big cookie” if it’s not even big?”
The new requirements will require that beverages have 67 or less calories per eight ounces, will replace all milk with skim milk or one percent milk, prohibit energy drinks as well as food with 35% or higher calories from sugar.
Not only does the state Board of Education want to eliminate high fat food, but they also aim to require at least 30 minutes of physical activity from every student, every day. As for elementary students, if this regulation passes, they will be required to have 150 minutes of physical activity each week.
Now that’s an idea that makes physical education teachers very happy.
“I don’t think the chance of passing the food regulations is very high. But it would be nice; kids would lose body fat within a month,” said Aron Basile, phys-ed teacher. “Having 30 minutes of physical activity would be like a high school recess.”
“I am all for 30 minutes of physical activity. It’s absolutely a great idea, schedule adjustments would have to be made, but we would make it fit,” said Britney Clugston, another phys-ed teacher. “It would probably alleviate tensions between students. Exercise increases your endorphins release, which internally makes you happy.”
“I agree with adding physical activity to schedules, although it involves more work with course scheduling. But I don’t know about the food changes only because we have a good variety of food in our cafeteria. It isn’t all healthy food, or all junk,” said Penn Manor school counselor, Marjean Long.
The board has held hearings on the regulations in April and plans to vote on the changes during the first week in May.
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By Kayla Pagan