Wednesday, November 03, 2010
"Good Job! Here's your obesity prize," says George J. Mitchell Elementary School of Waterville, Maine
Ever worry that all your efforts to keep your child safe and healthy are being undermined by your public school..? In 2010, with every child obesity and diabetes alarm being sounded from the Surgeon General to the First Lady, public schools are still basically obesogenic cultures--just like all of America. Why? Because that's the norm.
Take George J. Mitchell Elementary School of Waterville, ME. Recently during P.E. (which don't we all agree no schoolchild is getting enough P.E..?), third-graders were awarded seven M&M cookies each for "doing a good job..." according to one of the students. Again, during Physical Education class.
Everything is wrong with this scenario: First, Psychologists and Dietitians have said for decades that food should NEVER be used as prize or punishment. Second, the food was brought into the school outside any health and safety regulations or standards. Third, and most importantly, nobody bothered to ask the parents' permission.
WRITE THIS DOWN, George J. Mitchell Elementary School. It's never okay to feed someone else's children in the absence of their parents--or their parents' advance approval. It's one thing to send in a "serving for one," for your own child, but "servings for 25" involves everybody's kids. And seven, 7, cookies??
With the dual health crises of obesity and diabetes, does it make sense for kids to be confronted with junk food solicitations during the school day..? And what about during P.E. of all times..?
Maybe you're thinking Maine has no obesity or type 2 diabetes health crisis. You'd be wrong: Maine's obesity rate has doubled in the past ten years.
We don't want to leave George J. Mitchell Elementary School with only criticism for its junk food gaffe, but instead, here are some wonderful tools to help your school create a School Wellness Policy. (Full Disclosure: NAAO proudly serves on the CSPI NANA committee that created these Wellness Policy Tools.)
And here's an "Extra Credit" challenge for you, Principal Allan Martin, Assistant Principal Barbara Jordan, and Waterville Superintendent Eric Haley: Use these tools as just the foundation, while you actually raise the bar much higher at George J. Mitchell. Don't your students deserve an environment that's safe and healthy for ALL students..?
We sincerely look forward to hearing great things coming from George J. Mitchell Elementary School. And when you have a rocking-great Wellness Policy enacted and enforced, I'll be the first to brag about you..! I promise.