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Cops handing out fast food vouchers tasteless

Cops handing out fast food vouchers undermines healthy eating

The Greens are calling for the Government to develop guidelines for corporate sponsorship of government departments, after revelations that the Police are handing out McDonald's vouchers to school kids.

In response to a question for written answer from Green Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley, Police Minister George Hawkins has confirmed that Police Education Officers use McDonald's vouchers to reward children on school safety traffic teams who monitor school crossings. A Wellington cyclist was also given a voucher recently by a Police Officer for good cycling behaviour.

"Given that one of the Government's key health goals is to reduce obesity, diabetes and dental decay, why are government departments accepting sponsorship, and handing out vouchers, from companies that sell food which contributes to these conditions?

"While I think it's a great idea to reward kids for contributing to the community, it makes no sense to do so in a way that encourages bad eating habits. Why not give them vouchers for snazzy water bottles or skipping ropes or sports equipment or healthy food at local stores?"

Ms Kedgley said the problem was broader than the Police.

"Sponsorship for unhealthy food and drink pervades many government institutions, from the Health Ministry's mobile dental health service, to billboards in schools, to labels on school sports equipment. What we need is a state sector-wide standard, which makes clear that the Government won't allow public institutions to be used as a vehicle for promoting unhealthy eating and drinking habits.

"At present, government departments seem to be accepting sponsorships from corporations on an ad hoc basis and without any thought to potential conflicts of interest or the health implications of some of these sponsorship deals.

"Such sponsorship deals are hugely counter-productive. What we need is for the Government to set out guidelines across the state sector which outline parameters for what sponsorship is acceptable and what sponsorship is not."

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