I have to tell you that having a website about health and fitness and being able to use my experience to help people is truly rewarding and gratifying. Another great advantage of having a voice is that when things spark a passion within me (as almost everything does), I can use my almighty keystrokes to have my fair say and share an opinion. And this is one such instance!
A few weeks ago I wrote a post called Kids and Food: New School Rules in which I discussed how the USDA has finally decided, after 15 years, to provide more universally accepted healthy food choices for children in schools. The changes aren’t perfect, but they’re certainly a step in the right direction.
But not everyone agrees!
Today I read an article in the Chicago Tribune, concerning Elsa Carmona, principal of the Little Village Academy on Chicago’s west side who thinks it’s her job to dictate what her students eat. In a nutshell, home packed lunches are not allowed, and students must eat what’s available in the cafeteria, or go hungry. Unless of course a particular student has an allergy or special needs.
So here’s my take. While I think Carmona’s effort is a noble one, and I’m sure her intentions are true, it’s absolutely misguided. What the hell gives her the right to tell my child what they’re going to eat? It’s one thing for the government and schools to have healthier choices made available, but it’s entirely another issue to tell me what my child must eat, whether they like it or not. In my opinion this is insane and crossing the line. How this has been instituted successfully is beyond me.
Plus, who’s to say what’s healthy and appropriate food? As I’m sure you know there are many different viewpoints on exactly what constitutes a healthy diet. So I’d like to know who came up with this program and who oversees it? It’s also interesting to note that the rule also means the school and the caterer will recieve extra funds. Hmm, sounds a bit shady to me. After all, now kids HAVE to buy lunch, and those that can’t afford it are subsidized by the government (or more accurately by you and I when we pay our taxes).
A spokesperson for the school board states that principal Carbona is encouraging healthier food choices but in my opinion, “encouraging” is the wrong word, and “forcing” fits the bill much better!
As I said in my original post, I believe that teaching children proper behavior, ethics, morality, and how to be healthy is a joint effort between parents and teachers. But in this instance, the principal has overstepped her bounds and taken complete control of her students’ diet while in school. I’m all for children eating better, but not unless I say so and am in agreement. It’s my right as a parent to make decisions for my children and nobody elses, unless my choices or behavior place my child in imminent danger. And even then it’s a case for law enforcement and courts, NOT a school principal.
I’m curious what the teachers eat in their lounge during break. Are any of them smokers, or eat pizza, fried food, or cookies as a snack? One thing I can’t stand is hypocritical behavior, so I’d be interested to know what the principal eats and how her health is. Is she eating any of the bland tasting food that many of the kids throw out, or does she bring a bagged lunch?
I think a better solution would have been to start an “eat healthier” initiative, rather than banning foods. Many communities have had tremendous success with involving parents, children and school staff and entire towns have made huge strides in becoming healthier, while losing many pounds. That’s a smart choice in my opinion. Nobody likes be told what to do, or hearing “you have to”, and in this case I think it’s just a matter of time till this blows up into a big issue. In my experience, when someone is told that can’t have something, especially children, it becomes that much more attractive…
One thing’s for sure, if this were to happen in my children’s school, you can bet your rear end there’d be a whole lotta’ Angry Trainer fury! No one is telling me what my kids have to eat.
But what do you think? Should a principal have the right to demand certain food choices? Or do you think there’s a better way? Start weighing in everyone.