In a modern example of Frederic Bastiat’s “The Seen and the Unseen,” in Seattle, school adiminstrators are finding out that their ban on junk food has actually hurt student activities:
The Seattle School Board is considering relaxing its ban on unhealthful food in high schools amid complaints from student governments that the policy has cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars in vending-machine profits over the past seven years.
The policy, approved in 2004 — before any state or federal regulations on school nutrition had been established — put Seattle on the cutting edge of the fight against childhood obesity.
But board members now acknowledge they probably went too far. The restrictions, which are more strict than the now-crafted state and federal nutrition guidelines, allow only products such as milk, natural fruit juice, baked chips and oat-based granola bars.
Perhaps not surprisingly, many students are not particularly interested in those items.
(I just want to insert a “Duh!” in here. Like, seriously?)
In 2001, before the junk-food ban was passed, high-school associated student body (ASB) governments across the city made $214,000 in profits from vending machines, according to district data. This year, they’ve made $17,000.
The district promised in 2006 to repay ASBs for the revenue they lost because of the policy. But it never did. So the ASB organizations — which subsidize athletic uniform and transportation costs, support student clubs, hold school dances and fund the yearbook and newspaper, among other expenses — have had to cancel programs and ask students to pay significantly more to participate on athletic teams and in school clubs.