Today’s New York Times quotes me discussing the “cupcake problem,” the deal breaker in many attempts to get junk foods out of schools. I don’t have anything against cupcakes–I love them too–but in reasonable frequency and size. Friends with school-age children tell me the kids are bombarded with sweets in school for birthdays, rewards, trades, and treats. Cupcakes have become the flash point for arguments about who should control what kids eat. I, of course, think schools should set a good example. Your thoughts?
Currently browsing posts about: School-food
Why am I not surprised to read in today’s New York Times that the Beverage Association has “adjusted” its promise to take sugary soft drinks out of schools? Promises, schmomises. As long as you can keep selling drinks in schools. My opinion: let’s get the vending machines out of schools altogether. They didn’t used to be there. They don’t have to be there now. Bring back water!
Ah, the British are way ahead of us. Chef Jamie Oliver, who singlehandedly is trying to fix school lunches in the U.K., thinks kids should be locked in at lunch and not allowed to go off campus to buy fast food. If all kids ate meals at schools in the U.S., there might be enough money to provide healthier meals. Well, it’s a thought.
I had lunch today at one of Cornell’s brand-new undergraduate houses where 350 sophomores, juniors, and seniors have a meal plan that allows unlimited access to meals prepared in cafeteria as well as to snacks supplied at an all-night canteen. Unlimited access means that students do not pay for each item. Instead, they can eat as much as they want of three meals a day plus a late lunch four days a week, plus leftovers and snacks at night. For lunch (modest because it’s only the second day of classes), we had a choice of hamburgers, chicken burgers, fish burgers, or fish for sandwiches with lots of fixings; a salad bar; French fries (heavily salted); two soups; a fruit bar; and a bunch of baked desserts. In case that didn’t do, students could also do the bagel bar or make their own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Cornell students have one healthy advantage; the campus is huge, these dorms are on the downhill side, and they have to hike uphill to get to class. And, of course, they are young. But I wonder how they figure out how to manage portions and calories in this kind of environment? Anyone have any idea?
The School Nutrition Association says that school wellness policies are doing great things. It reports that nearly all of the schools it surveyed recently are now offering fat-free or low-fat milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, salad bars or pre-packaged salads, and yogurt or yogurt drinks–a big change from just a few years ago. Also, one-third of the surveyed schools are offering locally grown foods. Are the surveyed schools representative of what’s really going on? Are kids eating the healthier options? Do tell.
In the meantime, the Fort Worth Star Telegram (August 12) describes the changes taking place in Texas lunchrooms under the auspices of the amazing Department of Agriculture in that state. In Texas, of all places, agriculture authorities are doing everything they can to provide healthier meals for school kids. If it can be done in Texas….
At last, some good news. Joel Moscowitz of the Center for Family and Community Health at Berkeley’s School of Public Health frequently sends out articles he has collected about obesity prevention. The latest is a “meta-analysis” (meaning an analysis of data collected from many research studies on the same topic) of 12 projects that use a combination of diet and physical activity to help school children lose weight. According to the authors of this article, published in the International Journal of Obesity, diet and activity work remarkably well, especially when families are involved. Doesn’t this seem promising?
The Spring 2007 issue of the Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics and the April 2007 issue of the Maryland Law Journal both have collections of excellent articles on childhood obesity. The articles talk about how to use laws and regulations to improve school food and restrict marketing of junk food to children, among other actions. Tired of waiting for food companies to make voluntary improvements? These articles provide lots of good ideas for encouraging companies to do what they promise.