We live in an age where health and dieting has become socially conscience in all aspects of our lives such as home cooking, jobs, eating out, and most recently with our children. In recent news Little Village Academy, a public school in Chicago, banned students from bringing packed lunches when it’s principal watched her students bring lunches that consisted of bottled sodas and flaming hot chips on field trips. The school’s decision has sparked a hot debate among parents and is getting attention from both sides of the issue. While the school stated that it wanted to instill healthy habits in the students and steer them from unhealthy heating habits, there was one flaw I believe they are overlooking or simply ignoring. Home lifestyle. Those two words will pay a critical role in the development of a healthy conscience in the upcoming generation. A school can impose healthy food on students but the moment these children and young adults leave the school doors they are subjected to their parent’s lifestyle. He or she might have eaten a healthy turkey sandwich with vegetables on the side but when they arrive at their home they might find a greasy cheeseburger and fries waiting for them either cooked by one of their parents or provided from a fast food restaurant. This current plan by the school will not work and is only a band aid solution at best. But there are solutions. They will not come by easy or fast just as all sociological changes in our culture such as racism and fair treatment. Teachers and parents must be involved together and be willing to participate in awareness and training to be implemented on both sides.
1) The school must be sensitive to the economic pressure facing the majority of families. This can be resolved by educating parents on making good food choices without running up a high bill. There are plenty of healthy meals you can prepare for under ten dollars.
2) Schools must not talk down to parents or command them to do anything. This will automatically put parents on the defensive. Remember the saying, “You can catch more flies with honey.”
3) Make sure habits started at the school sticks. It’s easy to start new things or even new lifestyles and not continue with them. The school in a way must learn to sell the idea of eating healthy to the parents of the students and show them how making good choices can benefit them as well. This way there will be continuity between the school and home.
4) Schools and parents must also realize that healthy foods alone cannot keep you in good health. Physical exercise must be integrated into a lifestyle too. However when considering that some schools are getting rid of their playgrounds to save on money it must be acknowledge that tough economic times may not allow for such vital things.
There is one problem that arrives even with these solutions. Not everyone is going to go with this plan and not all parents will agree with it. So the question finally stares us in the face. Do schools have the right to tell us how to feed our children? Or even keep us from giving them packed lunches? While I agree that soda and chips hardly has any substantial or nutrimental value I disagree that schools can tell parents how they can feed their children. Good intentions can sometimes cause bad outcomes. If schools or other individuals would like to see parents feed their children that matches up with “healthy” standards then such issues should be taken up with the people and their state and thus becomes a political issue. We must ask out ourselves. What is the definition of healthy and unhealthy? Will serving your child or children spaghetti or a home made hamburger be considered child abuse and neglect? This may sound ridiculous but the situations has full potential to develop into a political issue. Then another ugly monster rears its head. Many young adults especially girls and women face the challenge of having a body similar to models and celebrities and as a result form dangerous and self harmful behaviors. We must ask ourselves. Do we really need our children to look like the former mentioned? If we choose to impose health laws and rules then we must accept the Pandora’s Box that will come with it. When push comes to shove I believe that choice must be placed above all considerations.