Go, MeMe Roth, Go..! I Support Your Efforts..!

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.


Fat Bastardo said...

This is just one more example of capitalism run wild. Corporations get contracts to sell junk food in schools. All they care about is selling as much product as possible with absolutely no regard for the kids.

Fat kids and puppy mills.

Americans are lemmings.

Anonymous said...

beellynoHello Meme- Any thoughts on San Francisco banning toys with McDonalds happy meals?

Anonymous said...

Ms. Roth, I just saw you on Fox News this morning talking about the toys in Happy Meals. While I don't agree with you on this toy subject I do appreciate your passion.

However I do believe your time would be better invested in fighting the government food program called "School Lunch". The typical school lunch is just as loaded with fat, sugar and salt as any Happy Meal is.

While the school lunch does offer fruits and veggies just what kind of fruits and veggies do they offer? Working in a school I can tell you from personal experience.

At the middle school where I am employed the fruit offered most often is the canned kind that has been drowned in heavy syrup. The fruit and syrup is spooned from the can into 2 oz. plastic serving cups with lids. Once in a while bananas are offered, as are oranges and red apples. The problem with the latter two fruits is that the former is often not ripe and the latter is often past ripe meaning they are grainy and mushy. The kids won't eat them. Gee I wonder why.

The veggies that are served are most often canned or frozen. Canned peas... no one with active taste buds will eat those. Canned corn is all right but it is heavily salted. My school does offer side/chef salads as a choice. Made with Iceberg lettuce, which we all know has very little nutritional value. Also in the salads is 1 slice of cucumber, a slice of tomato, which if you are lucky is ripe enough to eat. That is all the side salads have. In the chef salad you will get a few shreds of cheese, 4 or 5 thin stick slices of meat, usually ham (loaded with salt and other unhealthy stuff but I do love ham! lol), maybe 1/4 of a hard-boiled egg and a few dry bread squares. Not too many kids pick the chef salad. In fact I am convinced that the kitchen offers this only because of the adults in the building.

What I do see being sold/fed to the kids in amazing quantities are:

Yogurt parfaits. Which have as much whipped cream in them as yogurt. About 2 tablespoons of granola is added also.
Pop Tarts, we go through BOXES of them daily.
Cinnamon rolls... holy cow do they go through cinnamon rolls! Hundreds daily!!!
A new item they just started serving at breakfast is a cookie of all things! I am not sure what they call it but trust me it’s a cookie. I tried one... best cinnamon oatmeal cookie I have ever tasted. And they drizzle the same icing over these cookies that they put on the cinnamon rolls. I was told they did this to make them more palatable for the children since it was a new food item. Sugar on top of sugar. Great!

The lunch food items I see children picking most often are:

A slice of pizza, a hamburger, a hot dog, chicken patty sandwich, French fries with cheese sauce (just what is in that stuff anyway?!?) or corn chips with cheese sauce. Once in a while taco meat will be available on those fries or corn chips. “Regular” chips (reduced fat Deritos) are available with any of the sandwiches and the pizza. The drinks available are fruit punch, orange drink, 1% white milk and chocolate milk. Are you aware of how many children refuse to drink 1% white milk? We find more UNOPENED white milk containers in the trash than any of the drinks offered.

School lunches are loaded with fat, sugar and salt. Far more children are “exposed” to these lunches than McDonalds. The children learn that the foods that are offered to them at school are “healthy” choices. Shoot, the schools are offering them the same things that McDonalds offers them only minus the toy. Its not the toy, it’s the quality (or lack of) of the food.

If you truly want to make a positive difference in children’s health that is associated with food… take on the federal government food service program called School Lunch. That would be time and energy well invested and would make a far greater and lasting difference.

MeMe Roth said...

Agree completely and do loads of work for years trying to impact school lunch... www.actionagainstobesity.com.. And beellyno, Totally think it's crazy to give children a prize for eating junk food... Sad statement about our society and how little we cherish children's health... Spoke about this on Fox & Friends this morning... if restaurants will serve a reasonable kids' meal and simply add a fruit or vegetable, they still can do the toy give-away... So it's up to industry to make the change. That's great news!! Hooray for San Francisco for having the audacity and courage to pass this.

Fat Bastardo said...

School lunch providers are not in the business of providing wholesome lunches. They are in business to make money.

Parents need to love their kids more than food and convenience. The buck stops with the parents.