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Teachers Make Case For Junk Food Access

Oregon school teachers could soon have easier access to sugary soda and greasy potato chips.  

The Oregon House voted Thursday to allow school districts to put junk food back into teachers’ lounges.  

The fatty snacks were banned by a 2007 bill that was aimed at reducing childhood obesity.  Salem correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

First of all, Lake Oswego teacher Joel Glick wants you to know that with possible teacher layoffs and a shortened school year on the horizon, this really isn’t a big deal.

Joel Glick stands next to a vending machine offering low-calorie sodas in the staff lounge at Lake Oswego High School.

Joel Glick: “It’s a fix.  That’s what it is.”

Still, Glick and other teachers feel it’s such an important fix that they’ve gone to bat for a bill that would exempt teachers lounges from a law that prohibits junk food to be sold in schools. 

Joel Glick: “There’s a basic equity issue here.  We’re adults.”

And it’s adults-only in the teachers’ lounge at Lake Oswego High School.

Chris Lehman:  “We’re standing in front of a Coke machine like you might see in a lot of places, but this Coke machine doesn’t actually have any Coca-Cola in it.  What does it have?”

Joel Glick:  “Well, it has diet drinks and water.”

Chris Lehman: “So, don’t you like this stuff?”

Joel Glick:  “I do not like low-calorie beverages. They just don’t taste good to me.”

Chris Lehman:  “Are those doughnuts?”

Joel Glick:  “Yes, doughnuts!”

Chris Lehman:   “I just think it’s hilarious, we’re having this conversation and somebody just walked into the staff lounge with some leftover doughnuts.”

Joel Glick:  “Remember, the legislation didn’t have any effect on what people could bring to school.  Students or staff.”

In fact, that’s one reason opponents say changing the law is a waste of time.

Nancy Becker teaches nutrition at Portland State University and is the chair of the Oregon Nutrition Policy Alliance. She says too many adults, including teachers, are overweight as it is.

Nancy Becker:  “It just seems so silly.  There’s no problem getting access to large size cookies and soda pop.  Why would we pass a law to make it easier for people to get that stuff?”

That’s the same view held by an even mix of Democrats and Republicans in the Oregon House.  But more lawmakers voted to allow junk food back in the teachers lounge, so the bill now moves to the Oregon Senate.  I’m Chris Lehman in Salem.

Oregon House Bill 2419