California Educator

February 2015

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Bake sales and vending machines sell fattening food. There are fries and pizza in the cafe- teria. Then there are holiday parties and birthdays, which often mean more sweets for students. It may be commonplace, but is it good for students? Should schools become the food police? We asked two CTA members their views, and both offered interesting food for thought. One of my favorite memories of school was making and selling doughnuts to other students. It was a great project and moneymaker for my classroom. As an educator today, I would love to be able to do the same project with stu- dents, but it would be considered "junk food." What is junk food? Sugar cereal, cookies, chips and funnel cake? Well, those have been on the menus at my school. Even though these are on the menu, I wouldn't dare think of making my beloved doughnuts from biscuit mix with a little cinnamon and sugar to sell. I see chips, fruit rollups (sugar), SunnyD (sugar water) and cookies sent as snacks every day. It is not my place to tell a hungry kid or a parent that they can't send the snack. I say yes, sell junk food at schools. If we don't sell it, the students will just walk across the street to the ice cream truck or the vendors every day. As educated consumers, we can control what "junk food" is sold. We can sell juice — not the sugar water version. Selling the snacks at school so the students can have music and go on field trips is a win-win. It also keeps them safe on campus instead of running across the street to the ice- cream truck. As a parent, I call doughnuts "Naughty Breakfast." My children are aware that they are not the best choice. But that is what makes my own children good eaters: They have a choice. Moderation is the key. Offer healthy options at school that are cheaper than the "junk food." Make a video about healthy options and edu- cate the students about healthy eating and in mod- eration. Let the students learn to choose better options. If we don't teach them the difference and allow them to make the choice, we are not teaching them to survive in the real world of "junk food" media. LISA COURTEMARCHE, Westminster Teachers Association, is a kindergarten teacher. Perhaps "ban" is too harsh a word, but schools should model healthy behavior and provide multiple healthy options. Teachers and parents need to be role models. Free and reduced-price lunch items are changing (lower in fat and sugar) because of the new federal standards, which is a good beginning, but all students should be offered healthy choices so they can learn better and stay fit. I think everyone can have a piece of candy here or there, or a bite of a doughnut. Often, problems occur because people are trying so hard to watch what they eat and then "fall off the wagon" and actually gain weight. A party at school should not automatically mean candy or sweets. How about a fruit or veggie tray along with a movie or story time? Or a rousing game of four square, basketball or jump rope? The impact of junk food and overeating is apparent with the skyrocketing problem of obesity in America. Because children learn by example, parents must be included in the healthy food choice conversation. I encour- age educators to utilize a PTA meeting, open house or parent-teacher conference as a way to spread the word. Have a nutritionist or school nurse address parent meetings and classes. Or conduct a survey (with prizes for participation) about eating habits. Encourage students to make healthy selections for their lunch choices. At sports games, encour- age fruits and water. Some might think that various sports drinks are healthy (that's up for debate), but they have calories. Other ideas: During a school rally, set up tasting booths. For example, offer students a smoothie where ingredients are unknown. Both students and adults will likely be surprised at how deli- cious veggies and fruit mixed together can taste and might be more willing to try new foods. To sum it up, all students deserve healthy food and healthy and affordable choices, be- cause healthy students learn better. ANN P. WILLIAMS, Solano County Education Association, is a credentialed school nurse. YES NO Should junk food be banned in schools? Point/Counterpoint Perspectives 24

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