I was living in the UK when Jamie Oliver started his campaign against school lunches – to remove ‘turkey twizzlers’ (I was always a bit afraid to ask what these were) and other nutrient free items from canteens and replace them with good, healthy (real) food.
This was at least 5 years ago. So, I was kind of surprised to hear that the ACT Government had banned sugary drinks (among other things) from school canteens and decided to colour code foods to signal whether they were suitable for sale to children.
Really? We hadn’t already done this? I heard an interview on 666 last week where they were talking to someone from the P&C Association who was talking about the disadvantages to these rules and saying that if the items are available off site, the kids will just travel to pick them up. Primarily the issue was financial and the implications these bans would have on money raising.
I must confess to being somewhat surprised recently at a fundraising chocolate sale at my daughters Pre School. I haven’t been in an office environment for a few years so hadn’t really come across them before, but from what I could tell, chocolate fundraisers are everywhere and I can see why – they raise loads of cash. But, it’s a bit hard to tell the kids we shouldn’t eat too much chocolate and sugary foods and then come home with a massive box of big chocolate frogs to sell off.
As far as the canteen bans go, I am personally pretty pleased and kind of impressed that the ACT Government has put its foot down over it. When Katy Gallagher was being challenged during the 666 interview she was unapologetic, saying that there had already been years passed in talking about it and questioning what damage would be done by leaving it any longer.
It is also strange though that at Uni the other day I asked for a water with my sandwich (sadly I am not often so conscientious in my ordering but let’s go with it for now) only to be told they didn’t sell it. They could give me flavoured water, sparkling water, juice or soft drink, but not water as it had been decided to take it off the menu in favour of the environment. Great for the environment. But, a bit sh*t if you’ve forgotten your water bottle and certainly not in keeping with the whole healthy consumption messaging.
I remember as a teenager myself (some 20+ years ago now) back in High School and one of the great excitements of moving to High School was the availability of ‘junk food’ in the canteen. We’d gone from carob buds and apricot bars as our big treat at Primary school to soft drink and vanilla slice in High School.
Good parenting is one thing. My mum would send me into school with cheese and lettuce sandwiches on whole grain and we were never allowed fizzy drinks or junk food at home. And yet, if I could scrape up the $1.20 for a vanilla slice, that baby was mine!
All this aside, how much do these foods impact our kids ability to concentrate and learn? How alive do you feel after a lunch high in fat and sugar? Fancy practicing a bit of long division?
Or do we need to be teaching our kids to resist these temptations early on so they can navigate their own choices once out in the big wide world where fizzy drinks are on sale, with a side order of fries and a chocolate bar?