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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Plea I am Making to the School Board Tonight

As a Registered Dietitian and mother of two, I am on the front-lines everyday witnessing the dramatic influence diet has on children. As I am certain you are aware, we are currently in the midst of a national crisis of overfed, yet undernourished people, where more than two-thirds of the U.S. adult population is overweight or obese, and 17% of our children are as well. Diabetes incidence is escalating in children as well as behavioral issues and other health concerns. The most ironic part is the fact that most-if not all-of this can be prevented through nutrition.



After spending some time working in the kitchens of some Los Angeles-based school districts, and seeing what the USDA has to offer, I promised to always send my kids to school with a homemade lunch once I had kids. Although I have stuck to this promise wholeheartedly, it pains me to have this basic solution stabbed in my back. My kids still come home having eaten high sugar, high fat, and highly processed "treats" on a near-daily basis, given to them for good behavior, birthday parties, holidays, etc. The whole concept of a "treat" has been made obsolete, as a treat is not something one gets on a very regular basis. It is this very principle that greatly contributes to the current health crisis we are experiencing. I believe what the family teaches at home is critical for the child's health and habit education. However, when those messages are conflicted by the schools where their education and time is substantial, it sends mixed signals and raises the difficulty of understanding what healthy behaviors truly look like.

To participate in the solution, I strongly implore that the schools:
·        Provide nutrition education as frequently as possible from qualified professionals;
·        Eliminate the use of food/candy/etc. as reward for good behavior;
·        Limit "treats" given for holidays and birthday parties…at least require a healthy option;
·        Set regulations on what may or may not be brought into the classroom;
·        Require parental permission to distribute candy and any other food-like items (allergies alone are a critical reason to prevent a school faculty or staff from making food decisions for a student)

Thank you for your consideration.

6 comments:

Kelly Childs said...

Well done Julieanna! Bravo. It is so disheartening and frustrating, I agree.

Health Seeker's Kitchen said...

Excellent post! It truly is so sad to see the pictures above. I like all the points that you are introducing. I taught at our University last Friday and it was for the teachers to take back to their students. Slowly but surely we will re-educate people away from their unhealthy and misinformed ways. Most people just do not know how to put it all together and what to buy or how to fix it. They eagerly jump on board and want to do the right thing when they see how easy and better tasting plant-based foods are. Thank you for helping the kids. Good luck with the school board.

VeganVet said...

Keep up the good fight! There's a documentary about childhood obesity called "Lunch Break" that's supposed to be coming out soon. The trailer for it was screened at James Costa's house a few months ago. In the meantime, maybe you could have the School Board watch Forks Over Knives. Good luck!

veggiegrettie.com said...

I am so glad you are doing this. I too am so frustrated by the foods my children get at school despite the fact that I pack them healthy lunches. A few months ago my son came home with 2 POUNDS of candy that he "won" during class games!!! I contacted the Principal about it and the only response I got was wishy washy at best. It's nice to know that you will be fighting the fight.

Caroline Miller said...

The food rewards at school and handing out food at snack time and after school daycare has been going on for years. When my 16 year old daughter was younger I complained to the principal about it. For awhile the kids got raisins and apples during after-care but then it just went back to graham crackers and cheez-its. To make is worse there is a 7 Eleven next door to the school. Some of the teachers, who are parents themselves mind you, have actually walked the class over there for treats. For shame.

Jess Parsons said...

Hi! Do you already know about The Food Studies Institute's established curriculum? http://foodstudies.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11&Itemid=14

I just finished my Cert of Plant Based Nutrition and am all fired up to roll out Food is Elementary in New Zealand schools.

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