Joe Hendren

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Podger pays model to encourage healthy food in schools

Sometimes I think the Green party seriously overestimate the electoral value of Sue Kedgely. Particularly when she is banning chips.

To be frank I have always found Kedgley's approach to issues rather shallow. This issue is no exception.

And why on earth is the Labour party, behind in the polls, going along with this nonsense of banning so called 'unhealthy' foods from schools? Perhaps Labour don't mind this particular 'Green' policy as it does not challenge their carbon filed neoliberal economic model. Perhaps Labour are giving the Greens some credit for this because they suspect the move will be unpopular. Yes, they really are that mean to the Greens.

Sure, kids like chips. But I can think of another good reason why kids tend to buy unhealthy food - a lot of it is mass produced, thus making it cheaper.

A Red approach to this issue would look at why so many families cannot afford to give their children regular healthy meals. Why do so many children go to school hungry? Provide free school meals, fill the bellies, and the kids will have less need for the tuck shop. I would also get rid of the Coke/Pepsi vending machines, particularly where the multinationals give schools backhanders for erecting these Tardis shaped advertising vehicles.

I would of thought a more Green approach to this issue would be to adopt the 'podger pays' principle. Inflate the prices of the 'unhealthy' food, and use the surplus to subsidise the sandwiches.

Of course the kids will jump to fence to visit the chipper down the road - but the Kedgley inspired food bans make this a certainty. But at least under the podger pays model, the podgers are unlikely to want the exercise, and thus are more likely to participate in the tuck shop carcinogen trading system.

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At 2:41 pm, Blogger Rich said...

What people seem to have forgotten is that schools are not the private businesses of their principals - they are the education delivery arm of government. As such the government is perfectly entitled to tell them what to do in order to promote wider public policy (or, to use a nasty Blairist term, joined up government).

I don't know whether it's better to not sell unhealthy food in schools or to make it expensive. I suspect if the latter was done then children would pressure their parents to pay for the expensive junk food. I totally agree that (healthy) school meals should be free to all students.

I actually think there are areas where the government should do more to enforce policy on schools. We have a national assesment system (NCEA): all state funded schools should use this and all state funded universities should require it as the standard qualification from NZ educated students. If snotty middle class Listener readers want their kids to do Cambridge or whatever, they should pay for a private education *and* for their kids to go overseas for university.
Similarly, school fees should be abolished and education made entirely free.

At 10:12 pm, Blogger Joe Hendren said...

Thanks Rich - your point about schools not being the private busines of principals is a good one. I would even go as far as to say they are not the private business of boards of trustees either, even if BOTs are set up thinking they are.

My post above was written with tongue firmly in cheek - hope that was picked up :)

I guess I just wondered if anyone had thought of such a trading system. If the Greens think this would do a lot to save the planet, why wouldn't a token economy with schoolchildren also help obesity?

I do see a fundumental contridiction in Green party policy here - how can you have a harm minimisation approach to dope yet advocate (limited) prohibition of unhealthy food?


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