Monday, March 15, 2010

A better lesson in eating

The Sunday newspaper had a small sidebar article about how studies have shown that kids who brown bag lunch to school have a lower incidence of obesity than those who eat school lunch.

I can't say this is really a surprise - considering the average school still offers grease soaked pizza squares and chicken nuggets with french fries as a typical meal choice. The salads are tiny, the fresh fruit is usually bruised and unappetizing and cookies and sugary juices can be purchased on the snack line which is often a lot shorter than the queue to get the day's hot meal. Is it any wonder the kids who eat cafeteria food are heavier than those toting balogna sandwiches from home?

It's another failure of a well-meaning system that can't get out of its own way. I recently read about how some school systems are banning home made treats from bake sales - partly to limit their own legal exposure in cases of allergic reactions, and partly [and more publicly] to make a stand for healthier snacks. Pop-tarts and bagged Doritos made the list of 'approved' items to be sold at bake sales while Mom's cupcakes and brownies are out.

It makes a sick kind of sense, not because kids are better off eating Pop-tarts and Doritos, but because an angry parent can sue Kelloggs or Frito-Lay if their child has a bad reaction to a pre-packaged snack, but if their child doesn't know any better than to scarf down Mrs. Johnson's walnut brownies when they have a severe nut allergy, the school coffers are at risk. I imagine this is why a lot more school food is also prepackaged. Mrs. Field's cookies and Domino's Pizza have built-in liabitility insurance, don't they?

I wonder how these studies fit into the national past time of blaming parents for their kids' obesity? If it becomes widely known that school lunch makes kids fat, will Boards of Education all over the country start making bottled water less expensive than whole milk and cutting off the endless cookie supply at the snack line or will they simply brow beat parents to go back to packing lunches so they can't be sued for contributing to Junior's weight problem?


  1. Shouldn't the parents be browbeating the Boards of Ed to do those things?

  2. I've never known a BOE to listen to parents unless legal action is threatened.