Food Health

Junk Food and Schools – Who is Responsible for What Kids Are Eating?

junk food in schools
Umm... What will your child choose?
Today there seems to be a huge controversy over the food that is being served in school and how healthy it is. Junk Food and Schools - Who is Responsible for What Kids Are Eating?

by Jennifer Shakeel

When I was younger one of the things you looked forward to when you went to high school was being able to buy your lunch through the “snack line” instead of the hot lunch line. Yes you could get fries, chips, ice cream cookie sandwiches and such. That was high school a number of years ago but to us back then it was a sign of … well maturity, we weren’t little kids anymore and the proof was that they were giving us the option of what type of lunch we wanted to buy.

I am sure you are wondering which line was the longest, hot lunch or snack line. In all honesty the hot lunch line was usually longer and the majority of “kids” that went into the snack line went because they were running late or the lunch being offered was disgusting. We all remember the Salisbury steak lunch that we all opted to go hungry over instead. But the majority of students, if they were eating, were eating the healthy hot lunch.

Today there seems to be a huge controversy over the food that is being served in school and how healthy it is. Some communities are going as far as banning vending machines and junk food from schools and quick marts that are close to the school in an effort to put a kabash on kids eating junk. I have yet to figure out why. Not why are people upset over kids consuming too much junk food, I think everyone should be concerned about that especially in our obese nation where childhood obesity is on the rise reaching numbers it has never seen before.

What I want to know is “Why are we blaming the schools?” Why is it the job of the school to teach our children how to make healthy food choices? I know this next statement is really going to make a lot of people very angry with me, but I urge you to hear me out and think about what I am saying.

Too many parents today are looking to schools to do all of the child rearing with the exception of changing diapers. They expect schools to teach their children manners, how to be respectful, how to read, how to write, how to add and subtract, how to eat, how to dress… they want schools to foster their children’s talents… inspire them to be the best they can be. Then when schools don’t do that we come down on the school… they blame the teachers… the school… the government. Rarely do they stop and look in the mirror and put the blame on themselves or their children.

Look, the schools did not decide to become parents. They did not bring your child into this world and it is not their responsibility to raise them. It is the responsibility of the school to teach your child the essentials needed to be an intelligent human being. It is our responsibility to teach them right from wrong, respect, manners, and how to make healthy food choices.  Its our job…not the schools.

If we as parents all took the time to talk to our children about food, the importance of food and how proper nutrition is important to make us feel better and help our body perform the way it is meant to, then maybe having a “snack line” at school wouldn’t be a bad thing.

If we as parents set a good example for our children when we were hungry and went to get a snack and grabbed an apple or a bunch of baby carrots instead of a bag of chips, our kids would get the idea of how to eat the right foods.

If we as parents explained to our children that it is okay to have a salty or sweet snack once in a while, but not every day… I think the snack lines and the vending machines would be okay to have in high schools. You can have a piece of candy… and not need to eat a King Size candy bar. You can have a brownie and not eat the entire batch.

With that being said about highschools… I don’t think that chips and candy should be an option in elementary school. The reason is that even the most educated child at age 9 is going to opt for the candy bar over the banana. Middle schools, well that depends, there are some middle schools that start with 6th grade and others start with 7th grade. I think that middle schools can offer options such as fruit snacks, gogurt, trail mix and the like. But I don’t think Middle School children need to be able to order Pizza Hut pizza for lunch.

You see, I remember when I was younger they said that ketchup was considered the vegetable in our lunch. Yes, ketchup… a condiment was an actually serving of food! If parents are doing their jobs at home, they will have less to worry about when it comes to their children making a food choice at school. Kids will be kids, but it is very important to remember the positive influence we can have on them.

Biography
Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse with over 12 years medical experience.  As a mother of two incredible children with one on the way, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting and the joys and changes that take place during pregnancy. Together we can laugh and cry and rejoice in the fact that we are moms!

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