Advocacy / Food Environment / School

So the Principal Read My Middle School Junk Food Post…

principals-office-image1So the principal at my daughter’s new school read my post about the middle school orientation junk food fest and contacted me. I have to admit being somewhat apprehensive about meeting with her to discuss it. Four years ago, when another principal asked for a meeting, it didn’t go very well. She and the District’s Elementary School Services Director were upset with me for telling the Chick-fil-A marketing representative that I didn’t appreciate the school being used to advertise to children.  Fortunately, the meeting with this principal was very positive and we discussed ideas for supporting the health of her students.  It will take time and effort to see significant changes but I came away from the meeting feeling very hopeful.

The middle school also offered a Boot Camp for Parents to prepare us for the transition from childhood to adolescence.  Dr. Hatim Omar‘s presentation on adolescent development should be posted on YouTube for every parent to see.

Sending a child into middle school without having talked through issues including sex, drugs and peer pressure “is like going to stay in the jungle when you don’t know how to camp.”

“The lions will kill you,” he said.

Dr. Deborah Mapp was a passionate speaker about how to be your child’s best teacher.  She emphasized college, career and life readiness.  My neck got a workout from nodding in agreement during her presentation, especially when she brought up the importance of healthy eating.
This was followed by a teacher presenting on the school’s discipline system.  It gave me pause to see ice cream included as one of the rewards.  When she mentioned the possibility of making candy available for students to purchase from the school store with their reward tickets, I went into THAT Mom mode.  I hope I was able to convey the difference between using food as a reward versus food served at a celebration. It’s a subtle but important distinction since the major medical organizations recommend not using food as a reward.  When I was a student, corporal punishment was the norm but that changed as parents and teachers realized this was not in the best long term interest of students.  We need a similar shift when it comes to the issue of rewarding with food.
That’s why I’m disappointed it’s the start of another school year and our district has not adopted the wellness policy recommendations we made in January.  Once again, it is left up to individual parents at each school to advocate for these changes instead of raising the bar for all schools.   Since healthy students make better learners, this is troubling in a district that already has such wide achievement gaps and it will make for even wider health equity gaps.  Thankfully, I seem to have a principal that will take these concerns into consideration.

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