Who’s winning the war on “healthy” at schools? Garbage cans perhaps

October 17th, 2014 2 Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I have been mulling over study findings showing healthy food served in school food service departments has been feeding the garbage pales since the school’s cleansing of less healthy food. These findings and a healthy debate with colleagues got me thinking more deeply and blogging about what might be happening in this regard.

I used to work with a passionate paediatrician Dr. Bob Hilliard many years ago at Sick Kids Hospital who often asked our team “Are we winning?” I have often asked myself this question through my career to do a gut check: are we are taking the right measures and achieving the planned outcomes? Are we winning?

I’ll be honest, my heart sank when I heard this study’s findings presented about healthy food wastage in school cafeterias, good grief. When I think about these kids having unique energy and nutrient needs, many going through growth spurts, I wonder what on earth are they eating to make up for what they’re discarding to fill that hunger void?

I recall having one-on-one sessions with teens many years ago who would openly admit to me that when they have a limited amount of money on hand what they seek is food that’ll fill the hunger void economically. The word “healthy” was rarely used to my recollection, sadly. Unfortunately, what they can afford are fast food offerings. So many schools I pass are surrounded by these places. So are we winning?

Could we the experts be exacerbating even worse eating habits after this less healthy food cleansing we’ve done in schools? I have heard about positive experiences where some schools had kids involved in the decision making of food service options. I love Brian Wansink’s healthy and stealthy approach to setting up a healthier cafeteria, described in his new book Slim By Design check it out.

The bottom line for me is the importance of doing further research on this to ensure there are no unintended consequences. After all we don’t want another wave of an epidemic on top of those we already have and add psychological eating issues to the mix, which would be more difficult to fix. For kid’s sake, let’s make sure we ARE winning and make necessary changes as needed.

Something to knaw on, that’s for sure….

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2 Responses to “Who’s winning the war on “healthy” at schools? Garbage cans perhaps”

  1. Rosa says:

    I found your blog post extremely interesting; and as I look at my daughter’s own school; pizza and lunch lady orders that provides a hot lunch and usually consists of pasta, nuggets, mashed potatoes and vegetarian options. But here is the thing; we can try to change the behaviour of the students but first we have to change mom and dad’s behaviour. Here is my point; Little Johnny doesn’t eat anything but spaghetti i or chicken nuggets; so Mom and Dad always order the same meals; Where is the balance?
    Also those awesome ideas; are awesome in theory; as most elementary schools aren’t housed wit a cafeteria; the products are bought frozen or packaged or canned and prepared. How much nutritional value has been lost to freezing and packaging processes; and then to the nuking process? Honestly, it’s a start – but I can see why we aren’t winning. I don’t know of any school cafeteria that makes meals from scratch. It’s all prepackaged;
    And that is true of restaurants as well; perhaps not all, but in the urban world I live in’ I barely ever have to wait more that 20 minutes for a meal. At home; one would never be able to put it together in that amount of time if we were cooking from scratch.

    The solution; perhaps everyone should be sent back to the basics; learn to cook; learn the food guide and get rid of the snacking and i can grab a bite anytime attitude; who’d hungry when the fill up on junk food. Chances are; these kids won;t feel the poor effects of their ways until it’s toooooooooooooo late. So calling all grandparents. aunts uncles neighbours and parents. It takes a community to raise a healthy child; the best you can do is teach them about healthy nutrition and building up the foundations and start from scratch.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks Rosa,
    For taking the time to weigh in on this important issue, for kids sake!

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