At our kid’s school the typical menu is fried chicken, French fries (or some other potato) and sometimes salad. Peanut butter and jelly is available every day. Dessert is served every day. The kids are not allowed to bring their own food. Our entire family is vegetarian. We talked to the school about this issue and their solution was to have the kids eat salad and/or peanut butter and jelly every day. After lunch they are welcome to go to the bookstore and buy cookies and crackers to fill up on. It is hard to even believe that I am having this issue. Any thoughts or suggestions? Oh my, this is a problem! I agree, it’s hard to believe this exists. Unfortunately, you’re not alone with this dilemma. There are thousands of schools like yours, across the country, and around the world even, serving really unhealthy stuff. The reason is our whole culture has been trained to eat junk food and fast food. Our kids have been sold out to major corporations that make very large profits from food that tastes good, but has a lot of sugar and fat and a longer shelf life for easy distribution. Health isn’t considered. So it’s no wonder there’s a growing obesity crisis in children, now, like there has been with adults for decades. The only answer I see is to raise some consciousness. Go on a mission for healthy kids. Here’s what I would do. I would gather as many parents who are health conscious as possible, and form an action group. Are there any doctors or dieticians in the school community? Any other concerned parents? What about the school nurse, and the health and physical education teachers? Start a campaign. There’s strength in numbers. Go to the principal. Better yet, go to the school board of trustees, or the owners of the school. Write a letter to the school paper, or the town’s. Be nice about it, but be assertive. Go talk to the mayor about the unhealthy meals. Put the word out that you and your action group love your children and want them to be healthy and live long. Make some suggestions for good, fresh food that kids like, too. Campaign for spaghetti with broccoli or carrots. Turkey burgers. Baked chicken. Vegetable lasagna. Fresh fruit. Whole wheat bread and other healthy snacks. What surprises me most is this school won’t allow your kids to bring their own lunch. It’s possible the school needs 100% participation in their lunch program to be cost effective. Offer to pay for the school lunch anyway, and pack a lunch until your school cafeteria makes the food safe to eat. Make an effort to research other schools across the country who have started banning soda and vending machines, and begun to serve healthy meals and snacks. Find and show articles about model schools that have made changes to your school’s administrators. You could volunteer to be on the school board! All of these ideas do mean work and time. But, what better cause than your kids’ health?

- Norris Chumley

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