In my 10+ years of advocating for a better food environment for my kids and for the planet, I’ve heard lots of reasons why people don’t take a stand for better school food. Here are some of the top excuses along with reasons why you should care.
“It’s just one meal” While that may be true, it’s one meal a day for 180 days a year and for 12 years. That’s over 2000 meals. Imagine if schools just gave your kid one cigarette each day. Just one. For 180 days a year for 12 years. What are the chances that your kid would become a smoker? The school food environment can leave a lasting impression on your kids.
“I brown bag my kids lunch” Brown bagging is great if you have the time and the funding to do it. Many kids cooperate during the elementary years but often give into peer pressure by middle school. Brown bag or not, a toxic school food environment can still undo all those good food habits you’ve been working hard to install at home. Many kids have been known to dump their wonderful home made brown bagged lunch right into the trash and trade off with fellow students or purchase junk from the cafeteria, vending or bake sales. Ultimately we brown baggers still need a better food environment and our kids need a higher Food IQ. Schools need to educate kids about the hazards of poor quality foods and walk their talk in the cafeteria.
“My child isn’t overweight” The media, mainstream medicine and the food industry has been, in my opinion, over focusing on childhood obesity. There are lots of other ways your child can be negatively impacted by poor quality food besides a bulging waistline! Refined sugar along with artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners has known to have connections to problems with attention, focus and behavior. We all need to consider the impact that poor quality industrial food has on our environment.
“Our kids go to an affluent private school” Money does not guarantee a healthy cafeteria! Fresh deli meats can still have questionable ingredients such as MSG and are often not top quality even though you may be paying top dollar. These products are more than likely factory farmed, creating damage to our environment. Your kids brains are also just as likely to be hijacked by refined sugar and poor quality fats as in less affluent public schools.
“Federal school food legislation doesn’t affect me. Our kids don’t get free and reduced lunch through the School Lunch Program” If you think federal legislation on school food doesn’t matter, think again! In this wonderful country of ours, we are all connected. Solid legislation that protects our kids in school and invests in their health saves ALL of us money in the long run. Better food in schools along with food based education is a down payment on health care reform. We either invest in our children’s health or else we pay later.