Schools Are Making Our Kids Fat & Sick

Rant 29

school lunchI was dreading sending my daughter off for her first day of school for all the usual reasons and then one you may not have on your mind. Or maybe you do? Do you feel like school is making our kids increasingly unhealthy?

I say this after having seen on the news just last night that an overcrowded school in the New York City area has turned to giving kids "school brunch" instead of school lunch. It's the nice way of saying that these middle school kids are being forced to eat their lunch at the bizarre hour of 9:45 a.m.

The school is defending its strange lunch schedule with the typical "but we're overcrowded" and the disturbing (especially if it's true) "well, these kids aren't eating breakfast anyway."

OK, that's all well and good. But what happens after their "brunch" break, when these kids are sent back to class with hour after hour of sitting ahead of them? Here's betting their stomachs will be growling sooner rather than later, leaving them unable to concentrate on their school work. Not to mention, when they do leave school, they will be more likely to scarf down excess amounts of food to fill the gaping hole in their bellies.

Last year my little cousin was in second grade, and his mother was not allowed to pack an afternoon snack for him. His teacher simply did not allow for the class to take time out of their day to eat, not even a peanut-free healthy snack. It stymied my aunt who has tried to raise her kids to eat several small but healthy meals through the day, tried to teach them that food is to fuel the body, not something we gorge ourselves on because we wait until the very last second when we can't take it anymore to eat.

Dismal eating habits are inevitable in a country where the emphasis on testing has made teachers and administrators greedy to squeeze as much academic time out of the school day that they possibly can. I feel for them. But these strange eating patterns, the move to chop away at recess time, sometimes taking it away entirely, is harmful to kids.

Our schools keep our kids trapped in their seats for most of the day and then set them up for a life of poor eating habits. No wonder have a childhood obesity crisis on our hands in this country.

What kind of exercise and eating opportunities exist in your child's school?


Image via USDAgov/Flickr

back to school, elementary school, food, kid health


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I know this isn't the right thing to say but my gosh!!! I want one of those hot dogs!!!!

nonmember avatar Amy

Mmmm, hot dogs!

My third grader eats "lunch" at 10am! And they have a very firm "no snack" rule, supposedly to fight childhood obesity. Ha ha ha. I make sure she gets fat/protein at breakfast and has a hearty "snack" right when she gets off the bus. Poor kid. She is really thin too.

Histo... HistoryMamaX3

I wrote a note for my child and had the doctor sign it stating that he had to have a snack at various points of the day... kids are growing and need to eat regularly in order to keep their minds and bodies functioning. Grown ups are supposed to eat small meals roughly every few hours- how can we make little growing bodies wait hours before being refueled?

I pack my children's lunch as well- the schools do not adequately provide a proper meal for children to ensure they get what they need. The federal guidelines are a joke and the food is mostly filler crap to make the kids feel full, not always nutritious. IF they eat it.

nonmember avatar Jessica

My daughter isn't in school yet, but for these reasons i'm sort of dreading it. And seriously considering putting her into a small local private school. I don't understand how it's allowed to take away free play/exercise time AND not give kids nutritious food. and all the kids get bussed EVERYWHERE!! I walked to middle & high school, both of which are a half mile from my mother's house. now that live next door to her get bussed!!! how insane?! and I wasn't in school long ago, i'm just 24. these are serious problems I find with public school.

the4m... the4mutts

My kids have a fantastic school.

They get a healthy breakfast with fresh fruit every day, for free for ALL students, at 730 am, with class not starting until 815am *leaving plently of recess time before class*

Then a mid-morning break where they can play, or snack on their lunch or leftover breakfast if they saved some. Then lunch, with 15 mins for eating, 15 for recess, and a 10 minute "cool down" in all classes for reading & digesting. They also get a 4th break where they can play/snack *again from whatever they have leftover* before school let's out. The kids are never denied water, or a bathroom break. They can specifically ask to streach their legs for a couple minutes once in the middle of each class if they don't abuse the privelage.

So, I'm not even the teeniest bit worried about my kids food & exercise. I live in Bakersfield Ca, and my kids go to a low-budget city school. So its not an expensive private school that I had-picked or anything.

Neener neener. Jk. Kinda. Be jealous, my kids' school is awesome haha

vulca... vulcanarcher

I'm a teacher, and yeah, I've got issues with my lunch being set at 10:44 in the morning.  On the other hand, how would YOU set the lunch schedule with minimal disruption to classes, or without extending the school day by an hour or two?

Also, school lunches are generally run by the private, rather than the public center.  Basically, they don't have incentive to do well the way a private sector catering business would.  So given that, they don't have to go beyond the minimum.  You get what you pay for.  My school recently switched from a private company to the district running the food program.  It's awful.  The students are already complaining and wishing the company would come back, even if it meant paying more for lunch.

dirti... dirtiekittie

i make my daughter's lunch, she actually asks for it and prefers it to the food at school. that's just her personal taste. but my poor kid is on the other end of this - because their school is so full, their lunch is actually at 1pm! for us, that doesn't seem so late... but for my little kiddo who's been running around and exercising her body AND brain power (they have PE twice a week, and flag football once a week) that's really late to be eating! fortunately the school does allow snacks during their recess / free time outside, so i usually pack her something with protein to keep her going.

school lunches are a problem in many places; it just amazes me to no end how we can all be in the same damn "developed" country and have kids who are given amazing meals for free (i'm looking at you, @4mutts - - lucky indeed!) and then we have schools that serve peanut butter spread on paper thin bread as a "breakfast". i'm getting sidetracked here, but gosh i sure wish the politicians gave a crap about me having a job with decent healthcare and my kids having a decent education and nutrionally balanced meals in the government's care more than just talking crap about what corporations deserve tax breaks. sorry, didn't mean to take it to the political... but the differences here are astounding!!!

nonmember avatar kaerae

It's not all the school's fault. First of all, they don't HAVE to eat there, you can brown bag it. Also, school lunches were just as scary and unhealthy when we were kids,we ate just as many birthday treates, and we weren't fat. Of course, we had no computer, 3 TV channels and parents who acted like parents.

the4m... the4mutts

Dirtiekittie- glad you can see the humor and luck in my post.

I had Nooo clue this school was so good when we moved here. Its so low budget, that the first year in our house, I sent my son to his dad's "better" district for Kinder. Ha! Big mistake that I won't even bother getting into.

More schools/districts should follow suit with schools like this elementary school. They are fantastic, have nationally accredited teachers, constantly working on comunication w/parents... *sigh* I could babble the praises of this school for days.

Its not perfect, but there's so little wrong with it, I overlook the imperfections and be glad that we got lucky enough to choose this house to buy.

SoJaided SoJaided

@kaerae, whether your kid brown bags it or not, if the school only lets them eat it early in the morning or late in the afternoon with no snacks or a reasonable lunch time, that's definitely a problem and definitely the schools fault

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