Monday, January 15, 2007

Why don't we just force it down their throats?

If you've been reading this blog, then you'd know that I think that schools are going the wrong direction when they continue to ban certain foods at school. I understand the idea behind banning candy bars and your old school "junk food", however the scope of what is considered "junk food" has now changed. For instance, our school has attempted to ban soda, because it is full of sugar. Instead, the school has fruit juice drinks that often have MORE sugar than the sodas that they replaced. Candy in the food lines? Gone. Ice cream in the food lines. Well stocked. In some San Francisco schools, pizza and burgers have been eliminated from the menus in favor of other "healthy" choices. Why am I against this? I think whole issue is horribly misdirected.
Tell me if I'm wrong, don't kids have much healthier choices in school now than we did back then? I remember when the salad bar became a "big deal" at our school when I was in high school. I remember huge cookies, ice cream machines, and plenty of candy. We ate terrible. Remember when AM/PM started spreading on the West Coast? Noon runs to grab a half dozen hot dogs for $2 and a 64 oz Pepsi.....ah those were the days. However, we weren't becoming a bunch of lazy, fat kids while we were eating this stuff. Why? We were outside all the time. But instead of making kids get their ass outside, school officials and lazy parents want to go after the school menus. How about we address the real problem; getting kids in shape.

-Require 4 years of Physical Education, and make the curriculum a little more difficult each year. Why not build up their bodies as well as their minds.
-Get teachers to do more clubs or after school activities that require bodies to be active. I do "Open Gym" for three days a week from March-June, 2 hours a day. What about aerobics? Weights? Hammer the local business for equipment, or get the vocational shops to build some for you. Don't have a Frisbee golf course? Metal shop can weld together some baskets and you can place them around a field.
-Get PE classes that actually do some physical activity, including work. I've seen, and been in, PE classes that are a joke. Come in, run around the gym once, and play a pathetic vollyball game for 30 minutes. Most kids will sit off to the side and not even care. But the best PE class I have ever seen was from Rick Silva at Paradise Intermediate School, who treated the class like......well......a class. You did a serious warm-up (together, or we did it over again), we played and were encouraged to be competitive, and we set goals to reach. It made us physically better, and we ended up more proud of ourselves and our health.

Of course, we can continue to attack the food vendors and get the result that San Francisco schools are getting; students going to other sources. KCBS radio had a story today about a ram pent problem with catering trucks parking near the school and selling junk food to the little boys and girls trying to get on with their education. This is not sitting well with the policy makers of the school district and the city of San Francisco.
San Francisco Supervisor Sean Elsbernd has introduced legislation that would require the trucks to stay at least 1,000 feet away from the schools. "As much education that we are doing in the schools about healthy lifestyles and healthy eating, if there is something we can do to help them make that choice, I think we should," he said.

Yea, put those vending trucks on the same level as pedophiles and drug dealers. Smart move.

Supervisor Elsbernd is right about one thing, helping kids make the right choices is critical. But simply taking away access to food is not the answer because, well, the food isn't necessarily the problem. The school district has to set the right example to get those kids off their ass.
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