The issue of vending machines in schools containing sugary and fatty snacks is one that concerns me. The results of the 2012 Lifeskills survey, which were published by the Department of Education in February 2014, indicated that approximately 30% of post primary schools have vending machines or school shops which sell fizzy drinks, sweets and crisps. This figure was down from 35% in the 2009 survey.
It is my understanding that the Minister for Education and Skills does not have the authority to dictate to schools on the issue of vending machines. Schools are generally privately managed institutions which, although largely funded by the State, are relatively autonomous. However I am now calling on the Department to introduce guidelines to school regarding stocking their vending machines with healthier options.
It is my belief that it is not just about getting rid of junk food, but looking at the totality of the health and well-being of our young people.