A 10 year old state-wide ban on deep fryers and soda machines was lifted yesterday, by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. Oddly enough, this push for junk food is part of a anti-obesity campaign for Texas schools, with another major component of the policy being about bringing more local and farm-raised food to school menus, reports The Texas Tribune.
Mr. Miller explained his reasoning in a Facebook post, saying:
“Michelle Obama and liberal do gooder friends don’t like this, but they just don’t understand. This isn’t about French Fries – its about Freedom. I believe we need fewer state and federal mandates and more local control.”
The policy has been designed to build student involvement in nutrition at a school-district level, “where families and community leaders are in the best position to make decisions about what works for the children they serve.” says a statement released by the Commissioner’s office. The decision is based on giving parents and students the ability to choose for themselves, hopefully educating them more on the matter. Miller cites a common complaint of Federal mandates for nutritious meals, saying that at the end of lunch time school trash cans are often packed full of mixed fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Criticisms have already began rolling in, with The Dallas Morning News saying that the policy shouldn’t be about control, it should be “about the health of Texas schoolchildren and recognizing that if you give a child the choice between water and Coke, the kid is going to pick Coke every time.” – hence why so many families are simply trying to keep these kind of foods out of their house period.
Obesity has been steadily rising throughout the country. In 2013, 16 percent of Texas high-school students were obese, two percent more than in 2005. Child obesity rates have surged from 7 percent in 1980 to 18 percent in 2012. The rates among minorities are even higher, with Hispanics at 22 percent and black youth at 20 percent. Despite these frightening stats, Miller maintains his belief that this move could lead to real change, saying in a press release “We are working to put an end to a one-size-fits-all approach mandated from Austin, we want families, teachers and school districts to know the Texas Department of Agriculture supports their decisions and efforts to teach Texas students about making healthy choices.”
“What we have been doing to fight childhood obesity for the last ten years has not solved the epidemic in Texas, and in fact, it’s gotten worse,” adds Miller. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
The new policy – which officially goes into effect July 1st – will also give greater flexibility for fundraising throughout the year, as school groups can now raise money by selling candy and soda during school time a maximum of six times per year, as schools used to only be allowed once a year.