Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kids and Eating at School

I haven't written here in a long while. I find little time for extra-curricular stuff once the school year (and my part time teacher work) starts up. I have noticed a number of things about kids and their eating habits at school and wanted to talk a little about it here.

Before the bell goes in the morning: I see students in the school, snacking on slurpees, pop, candy and the like that they have purchased at a nearby store. When I comment about it, the usual remark is, "Who Cares, it tastes good." They have also mentioned that they need a sugar kick to be awake enough for class, somewhat like a number of friends and family members who need a caffeine kick first thing.

Recess snack: Gone are the days of a piece of fruit for recess. Now it is packaged goods, in wrappers that are polluting our landfills. I too have fallen prey to this as my daughter gets bugged about carrying around her tupperware during recess time when they are playing outside. So, a couple times a week I will throw in something that may have come in packaging...even though it's against my grain.

Instead of going outside in middle school, the kids sit in the classroom, stand in the hall or talk beside the vending machine. So they are eating junk before school, not so great snacks, and getting little or no exercise. Most are driven to school, and the only exercise they get in a day is their Phys. Ed. class.

At lunch, I have to admit that I'm somewhat impressed with about half of the lunches that the kids come into my classroom with. Most are balanced according to the "Canadian Food Guide", and are mostly "whole foods" but still about half of them are certainly not. Two or three come without lunches because they didn't feel like making one. Another five or six purchase their lunches from the cafeteria on average, and the choices there are not great, but supposedly improved from past years. You'll still see yam fries, slushies, and the like as they make loads of money from these things. Yam fries are better than the other fries they were serving only a few short years ago.

Where my challenge lies, is making lunches for my daughter. Although my family is not totally raw along with me, we do eat fruit for breakfast, and I usually give them vegetarian or vegan options for snack and lunch. It's difficult as in most schools, nut butters are banned. I actually asked her teacher if there were any allergies and if not, could she have nut butter and was told yes. I do use raw almond butter, macadamia nut butter, walnut butter also, as peanut butter is not my favourite to give. I also give her sprouts, avocado, salad, plantain chips, and some other "not so mainstream" items in her lunch. From the first day of school, she has been teased about these items and I'm at a loss as to how to change this without giving in to the "norm" for lunches. I see myself asking if "this item" will cause any ridicule, or if "that item" will cause heads to turn. Even with things I thought would not be a problem she comes home saying that she was teased again today.

I have tried to give her the tools to help, and she's really quite good about it, but I know that it's causing her some distress. I asked her how she thinks we can help the situation, and her ideas are great. First, I come to the class and do a raw food lesson with them and let them try the food. This way they will see that her "weird" food is actually tasty (they are not allowed to share lunches in class time due to allergy concerns, etc.). She also suggested teaching the parents at a parent meeting so they could make these foods for their kids. Another great idea. She also wants to open up the "Lizard Sauerkraut Cafe" in our house. She said that she tries to ignore it, but it doesn't seem to be going away. I spoke to the teacher regarding this, and to keep an eye out, but often the teachers are not in the room when kids are eating. She also said that there is no time for "extra-curricular" stuff like a raw food lesson as there is hardly time for the "core" subjects. So I'm kind of at a stand still with this.

Does anyone else have any suggestions?

Love to hear your take on things like this and if anyone else has experienced the same and what they did.


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