I am not a health food nazi by any means. If you had been at my table for Thanksgiving, you would have proof of that. I allow my children to have treats, snacks and desserts. But I do read labels, make healthy meals and use conscious decision making when choosing what my kids eat from day to day.
Not long ago, a new Wellness Policy was implemented into Unified. This policy utilizes guidelines regarding food available to students during the school hours. Immediately, I noticed the steaming anger from parents and teachers because of these new rules.
Parents were livid that their kid could no longer bring in cupcakes for their birthday. Of course, rules do not apply to what children bring from home for themselves. Parents can still pack a lunch bag full of candy if they choose, and that is really not too far from what some parents do. I know of one parent who brings McDonald’s to his child everyday for lunch. The rules do not infringe on those parental choices. But still, people were enraged.
Even with these regulations in place, they are not always enforced. I have seen plenty of homemade sugary treats brought in for birthdays and holidays. Honestly, I doubt much has actually changed at all.
When I look at our school lunch menus, I really cannot see the healthy changes our systems have claimed to have made. Pizza dippers, nachos, chicken nuggets, hot dogs; none of these items scream “nutritious” to me. The ingredient list is nothing short of scary.
There are school districts around the nation that are, indeed, striving for a healthier student body:
- Sublette Elementary in Kansas schedules their recess prior to lunch hours. Children are then less apt to hurry through their lunch – tossing the healthier food and eating only the treats. This also aids in better digestion and burns more calories.
- In Wilsonville, Alabama, farmers bring fresh, locally grown produce to the schools. And the district also holds informational groups for parents. These groups focus on healthy eating, recipes and physical activates.
- Springwoods Elementary in Virginia has put into effect an innovative idea called the ‘95210 Program’. The basics for this program are: 9 hours of sleep, 5 servings of fruits and veggies, no more than 2 hours of screen time (TV or computer), at least 1 hour of exercise and 0 sugar drinks – all per day.
Do I think it is okay for parents to make special treats for Halloween or Christmas parties? Sure! It’s all about moderation. But I personally do not want my kid being fed sugar and lard just a couple hours before dinner on a daily or even weekly basis. I get that you want your kid to have a cool treat for their birthday. But you have to remember that there may be 30+ kids in a class and they ALL have birthdays.
I think Unified’s Wellness Policy comes with the best of intentions. But much like Obamacare – there clearly was too much compromise and tip-toeing. And really, none of it matters at all when the rules are flat out ignored.
Please look for Part Two later this week for the continuation of this commentary.