My liberal rag, the NY Times, ran a story on school lunches and the efforts of some school districts in the U.S. to change up the menus and offer food that’s actually healthy for kids and not packed with fat, salt, and sugar. But that’s not all! You know those bake sales that net cash for school programs? Looks like some districts are going to ban those in favor of selling items that don’t make your kids candidates for type II diabetes.
Sure selling cheap processed sugar and flour with chocolate flavored fat is a good way to raise money for whatever pet program you’re trying to fund at a school, but it comes at a health cost, and it seems some districts are looking beyond the short-term raising of cash to the health of its students. Of course, as said districts try and wean the kids off the junk food (and with varying degrees of success), it’s the parents who are raising holy hell over the fact that their child can’t get their Ho Ho’s fix everyday at lunch.
Maya’s old elementary school tried to regulate the kind of foods that kids could have for lunch by stipulating that no “sugar drinks” or candy snacks could be included in the children’s food for the day (i.e. lunch and snacks). They sent out lists with suggestions for more healthy alternatives, but it was met with a good deal of resistance. The more the administrator tried to remind the parents that these things weren’t allowed (and explained the health reasons behind it), the more the parents basically said “screw you” and sent the kids with crap food to school.
I’m not going to get all preachy and say “We need to save the CHILDREN!” But I am going to take issue with parents using food at weapons to lob at school administrators — and have the kids in the middle. Certainly kids have their own agenda and, if given the choice, will probably choose the crap over the healthy stuff. At Maya’s new school, even though they have a potpourri of things to choose from when it comes to snacks, and she said that most of the kids seemed to be eating chips, Cheetos, or cookies. Her school does offer healthy choices like fresh fruit for snacks, and they do make sure there’s plenty of greens at lunch. However, simply offering these things does not mean the kids are going to take it.
Need some proof to put a fine point on it? Just think about the eating habits of your co-workers. And as you’re thinking of that, imagine them back in elementary or grade school. Got the image in your mind? Me too. In fact, where I work, my co-workers have an insatiable appetite for junk. You put year-old stale Halloween candy out on the break table at 8am, it will be gone by Noon. If cookies, cake, or pie is brought in, you better grab some when it’s set down at the table, because if you wait, you’re not going to get any. So, if you have adults grabbing the sugar stuff like they were junkies looking for a fix, then is it any wonder why school districts trying to offer healthier options for their students are being met with such resistance?