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Parents Watch for Junk Food in Schools

By: David Real | Real Acapulco News - 11 January, 2011

(Acapulco, AN 10 January) Starting with the first day of classes in 2011, the Secretary of Education is imposing new norms to keep junk food out of the school systems. The issue has been a controversy for many months, as kids, school administrators and parents have aligned themselves on different sides of the question. In Mexico, obesity is widespread, especially among the young, and more Mexicans die each year from complications of diabetes than from any other cause.

Under the new rules, the parents, and not the schools, will be responsible for making sure the shops and cafeterias do not sell junk food to the kids. This appears to have been a political compromise, as the food and beverage service in the schools is a concession, often granted by local administrators. If the parents have an interest in their kids’ diet, they can make sure the food services follow the rules.

The sad reality is that parents of school children seem, on the whole, to be indifferent to what goes on in the schools. According to the Secretary of Education, 30% of all schools are lacking any sort of parent-teacher organization (called literally “a School Council for Social Participation”). This is the group that would check on the junk food supply problem. In some states, more than half of all schools have no such parent group. Under the new regulations, a “School Consumption Committee” of the parent-teacher organization is directed to review all food and drink offerings. The rules specify that this group be composed of 5 persons, parents of school children, and that they meet at least once per month.

All contracts with food and drink concessionaires in the school system will contain, as of today, a clause that imposes the junk food guidelines. If the supplier does not comply, the contract can be rescinded; however, compliance will be documented by parent groups, not by the schools themselves.

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