How does a school district accidentally sell soda during lunch period and end up getting fined more than $15,000 by the federal government? Well, when the laws are convoluted and useless, it’s easy.
Get this: Officials at Davis High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, know that current laws require that they turn off soda vending machines during the 47-minute lunch period. According to the law, they can have them turned on for the rest of the day. Meaning that students can buy a soda before the 47 minutes or after the 47 minutes, but not during.
School officials thought they were complying with this totally useless law. Unfortunately, the school bookstore also sold soda, and the hours of that got overlooked. Since soda was being sold from the bookstore during the 47-minute lunch period, the school got fined more than $15,000!
You know, I'm all for school lunch reform. But, I have to say that if the reform laws are being written in such a way that something like this can happen, then they’re basically useless. The way this law is written, or at least the way it’s being carried out, sends the message that drinking soda isn’t the problem, buying soda during lunch is the problem.
$15,000 is an amazing amount of money for a cash-strapped school district. Did the district violate the law? Yes. Is the law useless? Yes. Does any of this actually help the students eat more healthy? No.
The only winner here is the government, which now has an extra $15,000 in its pockets. The students are the ultimate losers. The school has now shut down all soda and candy sales at all times. That may sound like a good thing, but money from those sales had previously been used to fund fine arts and rewards programs, which will probably get cut now. That the programs are being funded through money raised from candy and soda is a totally different problem that needs to be addressed.
Join me in banging my head against the wall, won’t you?