25 September 2005

Schools to finally clean the crap out of the tuck-shops

| johnboy
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The Canberra Times is reporting that after far too long moves are afoot to clean out the crap food sold in schools, turning our kiddies into blimps.

Will we see any investigation into the incentives offered and accepted to allow these obviously harmfull things to be sold in our schools?

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Well, since i’m in high school now, i absolutley agree.
At the beginning of the year, we had heaps of junk food in our canteen, and uhh, milko’s cost 10 cents.
Now, we only have two varietys of freddo frogs, gobstoppers, and milko’s cost 30 cents.
Quite alot of us have now brought lollies from the nearest food store (amazingly we have a petrol station across the road, who’s junk food’s pretty cheap)
And most of the kids at my school (kambah..) are sorta overweight. and like, we still have fatty foods for sale. And our p&c does nothing about it.
And i just realised. we have a choccie vending machine in our canteen, which everyone uses. and we’re all getting fatter. and no one does anything about it..

stupid goverment..

I can just see the headline now…

‘Boy dies from secondary peanut inhalation, Kraft, makers of Peanut Butter Sued’

i didnt know there was an arsehole of the year competition who are the contenders ?

yes we can all get misty eyed over little kiddies frolicking and then falling over and turning blue because they just ate fred nirks peanut butter sandwich by mistake, but nature gifts us these abnormalities for a reason.

i could write a whole essay on how medicine has held the human race back from further evolution, but when i was stabbed i was damn glad the doctors shot me with anti-tetanus juice. but when a whole miniature society is having its choices limited because one individual will cark it iof he sniffs a peanut! his parents should keep him or her or it at home and home-school.

im not advocating removing these people from the gene pool. thats a decision that OCCURRED by a combination of both parents genetic makeup. i hope the kids dont die from eating a peanut butter sadwich, but if i sit next to someone , crack a snickers bar and he turns blue – it aint my fault.

In some cases just the smell of peanuts (or whatever, in my case it’s seafood) can cause anaphylaxic shock. If my daughter eats a peanut butter sandwich, it could conceivably kill the child sitting next to her. Therefore, I am fine about not sending anything with nuts to school. I don’t want to be responsible for the death of a child. Unless, of course, they are going to growup up to be another bonfire.

Kids with allegies should have the name of whatever they’re allergic to tattooed on their foreheads so that the canteen staff know not to give them any of the offending item(s). Now do I win arsehole of the year, or what?

Yeah, but where the hell did that outburst regarding peanuts come from ?

As has been previously noted, children who are anti-nut have generally been well versed in their illness, the teachers versed, etc etc etc.

That in no way should impact on the lives and fortunes of EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE WHOLE BLOODY SCHOOL.

Albiet when you’re 6 you may not know how to tell if something has been cooked with peanuts, again, already covered, parents responsibility to provide alternative foodstuffs that are appropriate, and inform teachers and canteen staff what isn’t to be provided to child.

Again, not stuffing around the rest of the school.

If after all those measures, including the stickpen jabby thing are in place, the child still ends up eating from the peanut barrel, then it’s more a case of natural selection at work, rather than any omission of responsibility by the school.

I still think that children will be children however, and getting dirty, bumping and bouncing off things etc are all part of the daily grind, and should be encouraged rather than sitting under the shadecloth and told to play with the playdoh.

Oh, and PE might well be compulsory up til the end of high school, but in Years 9 and 10 my PE consisted of a semester each year of outdoor ed (read lots of sitting around learning theory mixed with exciting trips and the odd game of soccer or bench ball when our teacher got bored) and one semester of dancing (not my choice) and one semester of nothing (due to the amount of music I did out of school).

Of course, back then I used to ride my (recumbent) bike to school and was probably a lot fitter than I am now for it.

The government is supporting a program that encourages kids to exercise called Kids at Play (read about it here.

The idea is that they go round to after school care centres and community events with a van full of bat and balls and other stuff and encourage the kids to get moving.

Bloody hell bonfire are you in some sort of competition for arsehole of the year?

You want primary school kiddies to telepathically divine if peanut oil has been used in what they’re eating or they DIE???

Or even use their new mind powers to tell if someone who’s handled peanut oil has then touched the food they’re eating?

We’re talking about 6 year olds in some cases.

I’m all for adults taking responsibility.

But let’s give them a chance to make it to puberty eh?

On other notes:

If feeding kids things that are bad for them can be justified on a financial basis then I look forward to seeing cigarette and poker machines in our schools.

And as for nervous nelly schools keeping kids coralled under shade cloth for fear of an increased incidence of skin cancer? I’d love to know where they traded that off against type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

kids should be running around and bouncing off each other and the odd smashed tooth or broken bone is easily mended.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart6:54 pm 26 Sep 05

Thumper, Physical Education (PE) is compulsory until college im my experience.

At Primary School level there is generally gross motor skills training (balancing, hoping, etc) for the junior classes, and fitness (run to the other end of the oval and back, jump up and down on the spot etc) for the seniors. There are usually numerous outdoor running and playing activities (sometimes sports, sometimes not).

In High School PE is formalised as PE classes, which tend to cover a wide variety of sports and games, in the senior years these are often turned into elective classes with a preset number of compulsory classes, which is useful as not all of us are the sporty type, but still benefit from the outdoor activity without the overly sporty types around. Also the overly sporty types benefit from having classes aimed at their skill level without the less sporty people around to slow things down.

In colleges PE classes are pure electives.

I, myself, am not very sporty, but I still remain fit through regular excersise and (mostly) healthy food. The only problem I have is putting on weight as I eat plenty of food and for some reason struggle to put on weight…this is a slight issue as I am a wee bit underweight.

wouldnt it be better if the peopel with life threatening allergies took responsibility for their own feebleness, instead of impacting upon the lifestyle and enjoyment of others.

im not sure helping these people live to breeding age is wise.

of course im not sure that allergies are hereditary, so i could be talking out my arse.

ref fat kids, mr evil, doesnt always work. sometimes they shoot up a foot over summer and then beat you mercilessly.

SG-S, agreed!

Samuel Gordon-Stewart5:29 pm 26 Sep 05

I knew somebody with a peanut allergy when I was in primary school. He was well educated about keeping away from nuts, the teachers knew about the problem and the canteen staff had a list of foods that should not be given to him. The classes he was in were reminded not to go near him with nuts and everybody got on well as a result.

This was a proactive response which is what I would expect of all schools…however this would not have been possible if his parents hadn’t informed the school of the allergy.

I have no doubt that anaphylaxis is a very serious and dangerous condition, but when it is handled properly it is possible to protect the anaphylactic person and still allow the rest of the population to enjoy food which contains nuts.

All fat kids should be tied up in the playground, and ridiculed until they learn the error of their ways and trim down.

bonfire, anaphylaxis (nut allergy) is very real and it can be REAL scary. That said, its also pretty rare. Any sensible parent will equip their child with an epi-pen, which is a needle full of (whatever drug it is that combats anaphylaxis) that the user quickly stabs into the thigh of someone in anaphylactic shock. It’s rough and ready and extremely effective – a child can easily use it on themselves if they’re quick enough to detect the onset of anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis is relatively easy to prevent – don’t eat nuts or food containing nuts (parents responsibility here) and if you’re socialising make sure anyone who has easten nuts washes their hands afterwards before coming near you (other’s responsibility) Both can be done easily, as can epi-pen provision and training.

Unfortunately I’m aware of some parents whose first port-of-call are the lawyers, threatening to sue schools etc if they don’t immediately get rid of all nut-related menu items. Myself, i’d prefer to make sure my child knew how to help themselves in the big wide world they’ll eventually have to live in rather than have a half dozen lawyers ready to sue after the child is dead.

But that’s just me.

sadly thats a reflection of aging.

my pocket money was pegged at the cost of an icy pole when i was a kid. they went from 10 cents to a dollar. by that stage id moved off the icy pole pegging to the ‘take the bins out’ rate.

inflation has been low in recent years, so i expect that you may be experiencing rapacious profiteering. any tuck shop managers driving a BMW ?

Samuel Gordon-Stewart5:01 pm 26 Sep 05

This may be slightly off-topic, but one thing I’ve noticed about school canteens is that they get more expensive as you travel through your school years.

I remember my primary school was pretty cheap, my high school was more expensive (and kept putting the prices up…5c lollies were 25c at one stage and still called 5c lollies), and colleges tend to be more expensive than shops in some cases…is this just my bad experience or is it mirrored across the ACT?

nuts prohibited at school ?

thats nuts.

i think parents manufacture a lot of their kiddies allergies.

Oh, OK Maelinar. As I said, not trying to be rude, just looking for clarification, and thanks for providing it.

It’s a tricky situation. It’s obvious (or it should be) that canteens are as much a benefit for parents as students because it’s a simple way to get a nutritious, and in winter, hot, meal for their child. But like most volunteer-dependent activities in schools it’s rare that more than 10%, and quite often far fewer, parents will or can be involved in middle-of-the-day activities. We work, many of us. So, i think you’ll find that what appears to be unwillingness to try new things in canteens has a great deal more to do with lack of resources available than the need for a bloody great government stick. As it is there are govt regulations that are actively working AGAINST the provision of healthier food – if you (a parent) want to send a thermos of homemade soup or a casserole to school with your child for lunch the canteen is now PROHIBITED from using their microwave to heat it up on the grounds that it might be old food, or unsafe to heat again. On the face of it that sounds plausible, I guess, but how many parents who go to the effort to actually provide that are going to save up a few old scrag-ends and bundle them off to school with their child? Few, I’d guess. If you’re unlucky enough to attend a school where nuts are prohibited then you cannot send homemade biscuits/cakes etc for sale in the canteen because they might contain traces of nuts. Also fair enough, on the face of it I suppose, but rather than banning parental involvement wouldn’t it make more sense for parents with anaphylactic kids to provide their own nut-free alternatives? It simply doesn’t happen, and then the poor anaphylactic kid gets left out and feeling like trash because their own parents are quicker to threatenlawyers than do something proactive, like help…. Better get off that hobbyhorse now.

I guess at the end of it all I don’t agree with you that we need more gvernment intervention. We need more parents to act like grown-ups to start with.


Snarky, I’m saying that it’s a bloody good idea that needs implementing.

I positioned that the PTA and the Volunteers and the Schools aren’t exactly falling over themselves stepping forward to do it, and that perhaps it was time to see a little more governmental ‘fingers in pies’. (pardon the pun)

I also opinioned that they could save a bit of resource time in dropping the sale of Telstra and that election promise to give private schools more resources if they are looking for either a) resources or b) time to get around to it.

T-Bone, sorry, didn’t mean to sound as if I was dissing the idea entirely – in fact, with slightly approach different approach (cash up front?) it might be made to work. The comparison with portioned food isn’t quite the right fit though. What we have here is a situation where the buyer and consumer have two diferent motivations. the buyer (the parent) is purchasing a commodity (healthy lunch) that the consumer (the child) may OR MAY NOT want and, if they don’t want it, has the resources to step around it.

I think it’d be fair to say not everyone likes airline food or movie cinema popcorn prices. You can always bring your own popcorn to the movies, but it’s harder to smuggle in a roast chicken dinner onto a plane if you want something else. Right now what we parents would like is the airline roast chicken scenario (it’s good for you, eat it because you don’t have a choice beyond our menu anyway), but what we’ve got is the cinema popcorn scenario (if you don’t want to buy t or eat it, bring your own or buy something you do want).

I’m not sure you’re aware of what many canteens do to get kids to order/eat food. One high school canteen i know runs raffles with lunch orders – order your lunch, get a raffle ticket. At the end of the week the rafle winner wins a $5 open order. Now, that sounds like a winner to me.. but they still have trouble finding more than a couple of dozen orders a week. As for closing the canteen if it’s not worth running, well, I agree. There are more than a few that get by by not opening every day or running on the minimum number of paid staff and trying to get volunteers to cover the gaps. Closing a canteen is not a step to take lightly, but if kids don’t like what you have to sell because they can buy what they really want elsewhere then it might be the only option you have left.

Sorry I was referring to Bulldogs comments in my last post above, not Bonfire.

Snarky, yes it does sound cynical. I didn’t say it was an easy to implement idea but I was just suggesting that you might be able to look at current successful businesses supplying portioned food. If the school going to lose money that the canteen would normally provide I am sure they would share their credit card facilities. But hey its not my canteen and if it isn’t worth running it then close it.

Bonfire, I can’t tell you how many parents could or couldn’t afford it. You would have to do the numbers and ask the parents that question. The government doesn’t want fat kids, maybe low income earners could get a subsidy.

Take or leave the suggestion as you see fit. Maybe I might work out the numbers, put online ordering and credit card payment and deliver the packet lunches. Might be a nice little earner. After reading that Canberrans have higher average incomes there just might be some takers.

Don’t know until you try.

Maelinar, I’m not trying to be rude, but I can’t understand what you’re saying. What proposition are you putting forward here?

It’s actually a sad state of affairs that they are actually looking at reintroducing a quart of milk per student per day anyway.

I think that it’s an extremely valid idea of T_Bone’s, one for which certainly those in the academic field whom they so pride themselves on their forethought and intellect are so defunct they couldn’t introduce or manage the idea themselves.

Albeit they are a bit too busy anyway dealing with reporting on their students progress every 5 to 6 minutes, in order to establish if the child is Above Level, Below Level, too high on Ridilin, ADD, or the gamut of other scholatory excuses to say that we were simply too busy to teach your child anything because we were too busy covering our butts with a nice wad of beaurecratic armour.

It’s times like this that we should be looking at what is being done at the Gubbermental level regarding the overarching policy that the schools are required to follow.

aka the Govt says “you have to supply a lunch menu for the children that is made avaliable to parents for them to order lunches off”, then schools have to comply.

I for one think it would be a good idea to implement, although in this day and age of ‘It’s not my responsibility, but you should have been doing all you can’, it certainly would be difficult narrowing down the onus of accountability. (hence why there needs to be a policy from above, or more social responsibility taken – guess which I’m thinking would come first ?).

Might be a more beneficial thing to work on than pissfarting around with giving private schools more and more money or selling Telstra at the nearest convenience, but somebody voted for them.

Hi T-Bone, thanks for putting a bit of thought in. There are a couple of drawbacks, unfortunately – the firts being that few canteens have credit card processing facilities. Most schools do, but that’s a different account system – it’d be a bit like asking Woden Plaza management to process a credit card transaction for a Muffin Break customer’s purchase. Credit card facilities aren’t free, and will eat into the slim margins most canteens run at, and you will definitely have a huge problem with parents who then demand refunds because their child “was away for one day” / “said the food was inedible” / “forgot their lunch was there.” I’m aware that last lot sounds cynical, and i guess it it,but it WILL happen and it WILL cause more trouble than it’s worth.

Bulldog’s comment re affordability I actually think misses the mark a little. It’s not the P&Cs responsibility to make sure every kid in a school is fed, although it’s a worthy ambition. The school might choose to help here by using the resources of the canteen, but they (the school) would pay the canteen to do so, and would in turn generally get money from the Dept of Ed or other interested body to do so.

And Thumper’s comments re the breakfast program is also correct – but the last snag is that even if parents know there’s a good meal there and the Dept pays for it and the canteen provides it… if the child still doesn’t turn up to eat it because they’d rather go and buy a Mars Bar, well what do you do?

T-Bone’s right. Canteens don’t grow overweight kids, parents do. My own experience is that parents have until their child enters high school to influence their eating AND EXERCISE habits. After that, peer pressure takes over and the best you can hope for is some tangential and indirect influence at best. Really, the child is on their own because they will choose to be. If you haven’t laid the groundwork early on then you’ve missed your chance. Sorry.

Sound idea T_Bone, however many parents simply could not afford this system. I know more than a couple of teachers and they are amazed at the number of children arrivng at school without having eaten breakfast and with no plans for lunch. How do we try and include these kids as well?

quick, shoot the thinker !!!

Here’s an idea. Why not run the canteen like a meal delivery business. Take money upfront from the parents (credit card) for providing their child with healthy lunches for the week or a number of days. The canteen can provide a menu of lunch options that the parents can sit down with their child and select for the week. At lunch the child goes to the canteen and picks up the pre-ordered lunch. If the lunch doesn’t get picked up the canteen isn’t out of pocket because it is already paid for.
This way the money goes straight to the canteen, solving the problem of it finding the local shop, and the parents know their child is provided with a healthly lunch.
The canteen would have to keep the menu interesting enough to ensure repeat business. An addition could be the canteen helping parents that already have overweight kids with dietry info, and lunches to help them lose weight. I am sure some parents would be greatful to know there money isn’t being spent on those king size mars bars. Just an idea.

I am with you Snarky. Canteens don’t grow overweight kids, parents do. Personally I enjoyed the greasy stuff I could buy from my school canteen, but my parents only allowed me to have it once a week.

parents could start by not putting bags of crisps and mini fun size chocolate bars in the kids lunchboxes.

having said that, i used to like a pie at lunch on a winter day when i was at school. and who can forget the sausage roll in a roll…

I’ve got kids in both primary and secondary school and I’m involved in both sets of P&Cs, and I don’t think the issue is as cut-and-dried as you might like to think. First, P&Cs run many canteens. That is – the canteens are run by parents even though many employ managers to do the day-to-day running. So, if there’s “crap”, “obviously harmful things” being sold “turning our kiddies into blimps” then it’s with the consent of parents to start with. if you’re a parent and you don’t like this then GET INVOLVED! Most P&Cs and canteens are screaming for extra help. Second, the canteens that are run by P&Cs return the money to the school – generally donating tens of thousands of dollars a year into the school and that buys a hell of a lot that the Dept of Ed will not, and it’s money that comes (natch) from parents anyway, because that’s who gives kids the money to start with. And third, most schools in teh ACT appear to be quite close to local shops, at least where i am in Weston Creek. As my canteens have cut junk food out, kids simply buy up big before or after school (or even go out at lunchtime) and buy it from the local shops anyway. Good food gets left at the canteen – fruit can go unsold for a week – but you’ll find kingsize Mars Bar wrappers scattered over the playground in a trail pointing to the local IGA. The shops get the money, the canteen’s left with unsold helathy food and teh schools down a few more dollars at the end of the year. What do we do? Any sensible answers, please leave them here because a generation of parents who don’t like this situation have yet to come up with a good solution.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart12:14 pm 25 Sep 05

The sad things is most of the food in there doesn’t even taste good. I must say that a lot of the hot food at Dickson College’s canteen is only hot by name…they do make reasonable coffee though…

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