There seems to be very little nowadays that Texas schools don't want to ban.
First there was the ban on various aspects of sex education. Now there's this: a recent Time article tells me that Texas agriculture commissioner Susan Combs eliminated junk food from elementary schools in the Lone Star State.
I'm very sympathetic to Combs' decision here. Obesity among youngsters is at an alarming all-time high, and junk food is the number one culprit. School lunches often lack any nutritional value, and children flock to vending machines stocked with snacks and drinks that are anything but salubrious (yes, Ben, I got that word from Calvin and Hobbes). It's certainly a step in the right direction. It couldn't hurt to keep our kids from drinking six Cokes a day.
Of course, there's the law of unintended consequences to worry about. Cash-strapped school districts get much-needed money from the corporations who buy the rights to sell food and drink in the schools. This new regulation can have two effects: a) corporations, in an effort to keep their contracts, start developing healthful snacks to sell in Texas vending machines, or b) corporations could decide that the advertising that saturates our airwaves will suffice, and cut ties with the school districts altogether. Somehow, I'm betting on the latter - which leaves Texas schools in a bind.
And as how much good will this ban do? Keeping kids off junk food for eight hours doesn't keep them from gorging on Cheetos and Dr. Pepper when they get home. How fit kids are, I'm afraid, may end up being mostly in the hands of parents.
As a result, I'll remain skeptical about this policy until I find out whether Texas' school districts can remain solvent and whether Texas' children slim down some. I personally think that other states looking towards this policy should bring it up in tandem with two other proposals: increased funding for school districts and more extensive nutritional education for children.
Personally, I think the junk-food ban has its heart in the right place, but fails to get to the root of the problem - underfunded school districts and an undereducated populace with respect to nutrition. But at least the powers that be in Texas are admitting that there's a problem. That's the first step towards recovery.