School vending machines

I just read in this morning’s Anchorage Daily News that the superintendent of the school district has said that the school district is going to begin phasing out the sale of junk food & soda pop in vending machines. This is partly in reaction to recommendations of a school district task force, but out of fear that the schools would lose too much revenue, up until now the school district was going to ignore that recommendation. What prompted the reversal was the introduction of a bill by one of our (federal level) senators, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is a Republican; the bill is cosponsored by a Democrat, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa. The bill would make the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture update its nutritional requirements for all schools receiving federal monies (i.e., virtually all public schools), & holding those standards for any food sold through the schools including vending machines. (Bake sales & classroom parties excluded.)

Well, I don’t much like Sen. Lisa Murkowski, usually. She was originally appointed to her seat by her father, who had been senator before he became (a really lousy) governor. She send me a really stupid crapola form letter full of Republican-standard bullshit in response to my letter before the Iraq war asking her to vote against the war.

But this deserved thanks. So I wrote her a letter.

Dear Senator Murkowski:Although I disagree with you on many issues, I want to thank you for your cosponsorship of the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act. I read about it in today’s Anchorage Daily News, along with an article about Superintendent Carol Comeau’s decision to phase out the offering of junk food and soda pop in Anchorage School District vending machines, apparently in reaction to the introduction of your bill.

My mother recently died of complications of diabetes, and I myself am prediabetic and working hard to increase my insulin sensitivity and prevent myself from getting Type 2 diabetes. Thanks to my new resolve, I no longer use the vending machines at my own workplace (University of Alaska Anchorage), & have begun voicing complaints about the low or nonexistent level of nutrition in the so-called “foods” sold in the machines. I have followed with interest the Mat-Su School District’s experience with changing its vendor contracts, and the debate in Anchorage over Anchorage school vending machines. And I’ve read the statistics about the levels of obesity, even the very early onset of Type 2 diabetes, among the nation’s children. I have little doubt that if my school had had junk-food filled vending machines when I was growing up, I wouldn’t be just prediabetic by now, but fully diabetic, & probably already experiencing complications.

I hope that you will continue looking at issues about health and the state of the nation’s food supply. There are so many problems there.

But meanwhile, thank you for taking this step. I very much hope the rest of Congress recognizes the wisdom of this bill.


I hope this thing passes.

I was able to write my letter right there on Lisa Murkowski’s website.

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