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Junk-Food Sales Aid School Budgets

October 01, 2000

As a parent of two teenagers I am concerned but not surprised that "Eating Habits Put Teens at Risk, Study Says" (Sept. 26). The article points fingers at the usual suspects, television and fast food. Yet in all the hand-wringing about this growing problem, there is no mention of a far more insidious junk-food crusade, one that takes place daily in public schools. Schools make big bucks from pushing junk food.

On a recent visit to an LAUSD middle school, I learned that the sale of junk food is the major source of the school's discretionary dollars, averaging about $1 per kid per day and supporting everything from the band to classroom equipment. Visits to the school at lunchtime confirm that the majority of kids are munching on chips and candy, washed down by liter bottles of soda.

Then the Pepsi and Skittles generation is off to biology class to study the food pyramid, where, I was told, kids are armed with the cold, hard facts they need to resist the temptations of unhealthy eating. Of course they should be able to "just say no," even though there is one long line into the cafeteria countered by four well-staffed "candy only" lines and one "soda only" line at the student store. The school's "nutrition committee" ensures that only "healthy" junk food is sold, by prohibiting the sale of any candy that has a total value of 0 on the "nutrition facts" label.

Parents it's noon; do you know what you child is eating for lunch?

KATHLEEN WILBER

Chatsworth

* Am I the only one who noticed that the same day that the article on teen eating habits appeared, another article tells about the veto by Gov. Gray Davis of state Sen. Tom Hayden's SB 1514, to create a committee to study the nutritional value of school foods, including genetically modified products?

I guess, despite posturing in regard to caring about education, Davis would rather get more contributions from biotech and agribusiness than help the nutrition and health of our youngsters.

BRUCE CAMPBELL

Los Angeles

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