POP, CANDY, AND THE KORAN

This week the governor of Connecticut vetoed a bill that would have severely limited the sales of junk food in public schools. The governor explained, “The task of determining and meeting the health and dietary needs of children should, first and foremost, be undertaken by parents.”

Excuse me, but what does that have to do with the schools encouraging children to consume garbage in school by prominently displaying it in a vending machine and profiting from the proceeds?

Actually, the mere words “pop and candy” give me the heebie jeebies. Years ago I taught in an alternative middle school in a wellish-to-do neighborhood. The school operated on a consensus basis, which means all decisions were brought before the student body and discussed, sometimes all freaking day, and had to be agreed to by everyone before being implemented.

Even with this tortuous method in place, the school unanimously decided to enact a no-pop-or-candy-in-class rule. Kids were still allowed P and C at lunch and recess. They could still snack during class, just not on P and C.

It seemed perfectly reasonable to me, but the parent of one of the students had a fit of unbelievable proportions. She complained to everyone from the PTA to the superintendent to god. Mediation ensued. As a staff member, I had to attend the meeting. This woman showed up with a written statement that was 27 single-spaced pages long. And she read it out loud. It took about 40 minutes. I will never get those 40 minutes back. All I remember was that she had warm, fuzzy feelings from her childhood experiences with P and C.

Now that I have kids of my own, I find her behavior even more bizarre. As I see it, school is pretty much one long sugar-fest, from K through 12. They have birthday celebrations, they have cooking projects, they have holiday parties, they have curriculum-related special events, and all of these things require the consumption of sugar-laden treats.

I’m considering writing a letter.

Dear School,

Every day I pack my child a healthy lunch with a small treat for dessert. Every day she comes home and tells me she had 14 other small treats as well, all for legitimate celebratory reasons. Do the children need to celebrate quite so much? I was hoping she could put off the diabetes diagnosis at least until high school.

Signed,
Sugar-coated in Seattle

Now, if you read the title of this piece, you may be wondering how I’m going to work the Koran into it. Well, I had a brilliant plan for tying the P and C debate and the Guantanamo Bay debacle together, but it would take me a few more pages to make it coherent. I know y’all have short attention spans, so I’ll just tell you the conclusion.

People are easily distracted by trivial concerns, and fail to notice the larger ones.

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20 thoughts on “

  1. I read a study a few months ago where they took an alternative middle school and the only thing they changed was the diets of the kids.  They allowed no pop candy or other junk food.  No chips no ‘fruit snacks’ (that are all sugar with a little fruit flavoring added) and they curtailed the sugar intake of all the kids during school hours.  Results?  All the kids improved dramatically.  Mostly in the behavioral department.  Go figure, but we can’t tell anyone how to live, I agree with that, but with what we know, I think that if the kids want it the parents should have to send it, and they shouldn’t be allowed to have it in class.  There’s enough distractions already.  By the way I really wanted the GitMo segue…..

  2. Is that a wrapup of the entire Koran? I haven’t read it. Sorry, just being a jack ass. The junk food issue boggles my mind. And we wonder why people are fat and unhealthy in this country. One of these days my children will appreciate all of that healthy crapy I shoved down their throats! Actually the older one already does.
    ryc: My garden is neglected as much as it is tended to–we just spend quality time together.

  3. I’d say it’s pretty well written, but the end seems to come upon the reader rather quickly… kind of like it was just tagged on for good measure.
    I love pop and candy, but more so dougnuts and cake!!!

  4. Ain’t that the truth….Candy just isn’t good for you, and neither is soda.  The manifesto-writing mom should have thought of that before she composed her freaking novel and forced you all to listen to it.

  5. It just boggles the mind how they’ve allowed the sodas and candy into the schools in the first place. Yeah I’m dating myself here but I remember when none of the schools even had student accessable vending machines until I reached High school and even then they weren’t able to dispense product until lunch and after school. Though the cafeteria did sell some sugary items, it wasn’t sodas or candy, but more along the lines of choclate covered mini doughnuts (6 pack) and a two pack of cupcakes) And snacking in class was usually not a happening thing unless one was in home economics. Now they have quite a few student accessable vending machines in ALL schools that are on constantly, sell more junk food in the cafeteria lines and they wonder why the children are more obese now… I think they should go back to not having any vending machines students can get to and limit the amount of sugary-type items being sold – if their parents want them to have it, let the parents provide it in a bag lunch. Let the parents take the responsibility like the should be in the first place…
    Sorry, get me started on parental responsibility and I’ll write you a blog…LOL

  6. One school I student taught at had a district wide policy that NO PARTIES were allowed for any reason whatsoever!  I wasn’t supposed to give them candy or anything ever, for any reason because it disrupts “their educational goals”.  These were middle school kids!  I understand parties get excessive, but I gave them each a piece of candy my last day and told them how great they were to teach.  The theory was if teachers gave out candy, the kids would be hyper in their next class.  It was nuts.  This school was poor, the community was poor, they needed to worry about other issues.

  7. Okay, my comment ended up being three paragraphs long.  It was about classroom parties, my allergy to chocolate, tobacco companies, and, sort of, birth control.  By the time I finished it, I realized it wasn’t a comment but a post, so in lieu of hijacking your blog, Rabbit, I just posted it to my own. 
    Suffice it to say I think kids should have access to pop and candy as long as they also have equal (and equally priced) access to healthier options as well. 

  8. Our school is “strongly discouraging” anything but healthful treats for parties and celebrations these days.  We also just found out that state law is now requiring that a child’s body mass index be listed on the report card along with grades.  I think that’s ridiculous, but it’s not the school’s perogative; it’s the brainchild of our state health department.

  9. isn’t this still a parental issue here? I know sugar is bad and fast food and parties but parents can try the best to teach their kids about what is healthy without outlawing it can’t they? This is like the kid in Texas where the state legally overruled the parents about her medical care. I would be very unnerved with banning anything where parents could not be the voice of reason and educate their own kids…

  10. I tried to comment here last Friday, but the comments function was down.I agree with a ban, because this is more than about offering kids choices. The soft drink companies are actively marketing to kids when their products are available in schools. Yes–they’re available everywhere else, but school kids are a captive audience. If there’s a big soda machine in the cafeteria, and the drinking choices are either a.) quickly run to the machine and buy a soda, b.) stand in the lunch line and buy milk, or c.) drink from the water fountain–which do you think most kids will choose? And I’m fed up with schools that bribe kids with candy for good behavior.

  11. My tupperware site is actually down at the moment.  But you can look at my friend’s site: My2.tupperware.com/Christine to browse.  And if you email me item #’s, I’d LOVE to place an order for you.  I’ll send you my email address. 🙂

  12. Actually the theroy is very good and i liked what you had written…but i do have to comment on the “diabetes diagnosis”…It has nothing to do with eating sugar and candy and junk….just ask my otherwise healthy 10 year old who was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic at 5 years old:)  That being said, I completely agree with what you have written…while type 1 diabetics are not on restricted diets anymore, we still do have to watch what she eats…moderation is the key and the school makes that difficult!!!  Makes that difficult for all my kids not just the one with diabetes as I am dealing with 3 step children who were brought up on McDonalds and 7-11 hot dogs who pitch fits about my healthy dinners every nite…oy:)

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