They Write Letters…

This was sent to the editor of my local paper, the Valley News:

To the Editor,

Your headline on 7/24 ("Soda May Affect Health") highlighted the already substantial and growing evidence linking soft drinks with obesity, diabetes and other health risks, particularly for kids. The problem is very real, and it has therefore been disappointing to witness the Dresden School Boards' apparent indifference with regards to the health of the kids in our schools. For well over a year the board has had on its table a proposal to implement reasonable nutritional guidelines modeled on those already in place in school districts across the country. These guidelines would replace sugary sodas in the school's vending machines with healthier alternatives. But after much hand-wringing and prolonged foot-dragging the board in June opted to — once again – pass the buck. As they abdicated responsibility and handed the decision over to the students, several board members reiterated that they remain unconvinced that soda constitutes a health risk.

Our kids are smart and should be empowered whenever possible — that's one reason why we offer them an open campus policy and the choice of shopping at the nearby Co-Op. But given the unrelenting advertising and massive subsidies in place to peddle soft drinks as "cool," it's not surprising that the student council has repeatedly said "no way" to sensible nutritional guidelines at the school.

This, then, is a time for common sense and adult responsibility. Because in spite of the board's insistence that obesity really isn't a problem in our healthy Upper Valley, the facts indicate that our students are just a susceptible to the ill effects of soda as kids elsewhere. Yet, while other school boards have acted to address health and nutrition, ours remains in defiant denial and continues to willfully ignore the issue in the hope that it'll go away. It won't, but our community can hope that the board will soon catch on and act responsibly at last.


Update: it never ran, but this one did.