Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Parade of the Vendor Trucks

One of the most annoying things I constantly hear regarding the health of students is that it is school food that is that is making kids obese.  It’s as if school districts around the country turned on some kind of fat switch in the late-1990’s that made the typical American child inflate to twice the normal size.  This method of thinking is idiotic of course.  The amount of healthy choices at school are far more numerous than when I was being educated in 1992, and yet we seemed to maintain a physique that did not involve rolling out of the cafeteria door.  The fact that Americans have become more stationary and reliant on computers might, just might, have something to do with the obesity epidemic in this country. 

That and ice cream trucks.

Novato, California seems to have slaughtered the deadly sins of culinary salaciousness by eliminating those delights that tempt juniors sweet tooth. 

 The district has eliminated the sale of candy, soda and other junk food on school property, and has removed chocolate milk, beef and even juice from its elementary school menus.

The problem is that Adam Smith’s theory of self-interest has trumped the fat ban of the nanny state, and students have simply walked across the street to the waiting ice cream trucks and taco wagons for their meals.  Sensing an opportunity, the vendor trucks have now made it a daily ritual to park on the street and serve those that have chosen to spend their hard earned Marin County money (laff) on ice cream sandwiches and taquitos.  This infuriates the administrative legions of Novato city schools to no end. 

"Allowing ice cream trucks to side step (education) code and NUSD board policy by parking next to the sidewalk where students are allowed to go makes a mockery of the wellness policy."

Let’s be perfectly honest.  The mockery IS the wellness policy.  In fact, the whole trend towards only focusing on food is a complete travesty to the illusion that public education is serious about getting healthy.  Requiring four years of PE in high school would be a huge step towards getting healthy.  As would required PE classes (by actual PE teachers) in elementary school.  And strict focus on engaging and sustained physical activity in PE classes would also be nice.  Half the kids sitting in the bleachers texting their significant others is not sustained activity, no matter how sore your thumbs get.  It should be no surprise that the enabled Internet generation whose schools focus on Math and English are suffering from an obesity epidemic. The desire to hit the computer games and the Internet seem to be so attractive today that it is tragic to watch even talented athletes lose the desire to do something else. Over the last few years I’ve watched potential go down the drain as Xbox takes hold during the offseason.

According to the state of California, sixty percent of 9th graders could not meet the minimum requirements of the state fitness test. It was worse at seventy percent for 5th graders. The number one reason for obese kids is parents, pure and simple. They control what kids eat, how often they are sedentary, and the habits that nurture good nutrition. When I was a kid my diet sucked, but I was outside constantly. We biked everywhere, hiked everywhere, and played games around the neighborhood. Doesn’t anybody play football in the street anymore? The risk of scrapes and bruises too much for the little kiddies these days?  Maybe a little the blame needs to shift to that entity that engages in this constant educational hypocrisy.  Society.

And certainly stop blaming the taco wagon. 

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