Friday, November 18, 2011

A Mind Divided

MacTroll and I got a family membership to the Carrie Busey PTA so that we'd know what was going on. He was hoping that he'd somehow be able to keep that day open in his schedule in order to attend meetings, but he's 1/3 right now. They don't have a meeting in December and January is when we're headed out to San José for the week. So, um, it's not going so good.

However, getting the minutes of the meetings and the electronic information on school happenings is priceless. 

But, MacTroll and I keep raising our eyebrows at the inconsistent messages beings sent home in regards to FOOD at X-man's school.

Carrie Busey is a CATCH school and it participates in the NFL Play to 60 program. These programs stress healthy eating and active lifestyles. The school gets money for following their guidelines. Win. Fine. Love it. There's an approved snack list for what can be brought in for the kids to eat with "go" and "slow" foods, and once a month they celebrate everyone in the room's birthday with some "whoa" foods. Cool. Fine. I can follow those rules and appreciate them.  X-man says there's something called a Lucky Tray Day where school workers look at kids lunches and identify what is healthy and what is not. He indicates that frequently he is told what to eat first, too. And he repeatedly comes home and says that water is the healthiest drink, but really doesn't want that in his lunch. But on occasion, maybe he'd like to buy milk, except that when I ask him every morning, he says, "No, the apple juice is easier." :-)

But here's the deal... on Halloween, we had a party. It coincided with the October birthday party. So there were snack bags (mostly with toys in them like spider rings and stampers) but there was also some candy. Apparently during our party, an announcement was made (that neither MacTroll or I heard) that Halloween candy was not welcome back in the building.

So, the next day, as a special treat, MacTroll put two Starbursts into X-man's lunch. That day, X-man jumped off the bus, ran inside and shook his finger at MacTroll about how the candy wasn't allowed in school for a long time, like in January it would be okay to bring it.

What? Huh? What's the difference between eating your two Starbursts in January versus November? It was a decent question.

Especially since it came home that day with X-man's perfect attendance certificate from school for the month of October -- and a certificate for a free kid's meal at Fazoli's, which is a lot more unhealthy for you than two Starbursts. Each kids meal with a breadstick is around 400 calories. It's not terrible, but it's all meat and cheese and bread. 

For this month, the newsletter said that to reward the children who have perfect attendance in November they would come home with certificates for meals to Fazoli's and Texas Roadhouse (I'm imagining every parent with a peanut allergy cringing at this). There is no nutritional information, currently, for the Texas Roadhouse. But since they're the usual fair of hot dog, mac and cheese, two mini cheeseburgers, fried chicken tenders and bits of steak... I guess at least here the kids can choose fresh vegetables an applesauce as the their sides, right? I guess, my problem is also the extension of this. Because although the kids menus are limited, the adults who eat with them are surrounded by extraordinarily large portions and a long list of unhealthy choices. For me, it's too much. 

Here's the other issue...  I was told during the kindergarten walk through that pretty much the only fundraisers the school did were around the Fall Family Fitness run and Scholastic book fairs. There was a dinner out at the Texas Roadhouse. X-man asked why we weren't going, and I had to explain it's because they didn't have anything his lame vegetarian mother could eat. And I love my kid, but I'm not going to sit there and sip on a Diet coke while the school makes 47 cents from his kids meal. I can spot them two quarters. Plus, I'm not really thrilled with what X-man would undoubtably pick (chicken tenders with fries and -- begrudgingly the applesauce). 

In the newsletter this month the Fifth Grade is trying to raise money to take a field trip to the Science and Industry Museum by selling -- COOKIE DOUGH AND BUTTER BREAD PASTRY.

But on the next page is a big article stressing what foods are allowed at school at snacks and how children cannot bring Whoa foods on the days of their birthdays, they must wait until the appropriate party day... It's all in CAPITAL LETTERS and bolded and all that for stress and emphasis.

So I guess what I'm saying is that all of this not walking the talk -- and then shouting about the rules -- makes me want to send Starbursts to school with him every day in some kind of passive aggressive revolt. 

Instead, I think I'm just going to start recycling the coupons. So, um, if you eat at Fazoli's frequently enough NOT on 99 cent kid meal night (which is Tuesday). Let me know, I will totally pass these on to you. X-man (unless he comes down with my wicked pink eye) is also likely to get a Texas Roadhouse certificate this month. I'm happy to give that away, too.

But maybe, maybe, our school should start soliciting places like Flat Top or Subway instead? How about Schnuck's or the Common Ground Coop for a free apple or something not eating out. Some place where most everyone can eat and have equal opportunity to make very specific choices about what goes into their mouths. 

I know this makes me (the person with plenty of Starbursts to hand out) the food Nazi, but I do not always make the healthiest of choices for myself or my child. But I'm also not in an authority position over other people's children. It's confusing me as an adult.

So when X-man was whining to me about not going to the restaurant fundraiser by saying, "It's okay to eat at the Roadhouse, Mommy, because school gave this to me, so it must be healthy!" I had to smack down that logic fast. 

Food is not easy. I don't care who you are. But it's frustrating to be watching what seems like an internal struggle of a tennis match being played out at the elementary school level.


Anonymous said...

I would be frustrated by that, too. I know it's difficult for any school, business, or organization to be perfectly consistent with their messages, but you'd think that with their focus on healthy food, they'd avoid food-based rewards and fundraisers altogether. You can't be the only parent who is annoyed by that.


Leah said...

I think the real bottom-line thing, IMO, is giving the message that food is a reward. They're people, not dogs. They don't need to be rewarded with food.

The Fearless Freak said...

So I've heard about their "go, slow and whoa" thing and I applaud the idea of getting healthier food in front of all of these kids and even rewarding those kids that make better choices. I also understand the fundraising issues. It is difficult to get companies to sponsor things and if you got someone knocking on your door, willing to give you free stuff, you take that even if it doesn't quite fit your food ideals.

However, it is a mixed message for kids and it isn't like they need any more of that about food. And do they celebrate each kid on their birthday, just without the treat? Honestly my kids, and all the others in their classes, deserve to a big damn deal made about their birthday and I think celebrating as group is lame!

And what happens at the end of the month, does every parent send in the treats they would have sent in on the day, because that sounds like a diabetic coma in the making!

Also, troublemaker that I am, I would send the candy every day until you run out and then I'd buy more to send. Are they so crazy about other treats or desserts or is it just Halloween candy? You could always get red and green Hershey's kisses and send those instead. After all, red and green certainly isn't Halloween! :)