However, just as we expect a standard of education from our schools we should also be expecting a standard of nutrition from the school canteens. (When we say “we” we mean parents, teachers, society and the government)
Why should we all care?
Well parents should care because we are parents and we want our children to be happy and healthy. Teachers should care because when our children go into the school yard and eat unhealthy food they come back to the classroom and the teachers are on the receiving end of the mood swings. Society should care because “un”health care is costing us a fortune, plus our tax dollars are going into education and we should be expecting a good return on investment.
The Government should care … the Government should care like crazy … because health care and unemployment cost the Government big dollars. (Let’s face it, if the Government are spending big dollars on the sick and unemployed they will have less dollars to spend on the country and themselves)
So here are the top 10 expectations of school canteens we should all have:
- No added sugar – with so many natural, healthy alternatives this is so unnecessary. Don’t know how to cook with honey or brown rice syrup instead of sugar? Ask us!
- Stop using white wheat flour – Approximately 75% of Momma Green’s clients test positive for wheat intolerance. Imagine 75% of school children filling up on white wheat sausage rolls, pies, pasties, sandwiches? It has chaos written all over it! Don’t know how to cook without white wheat flour, check out our recipes.
- No high fructose syrup – high fructose syrup is just as bad as sugar and has exactly the same behavioral consequences.
- No maize – Just as we are seeing 75% of the community with wheat intolerance problems we are also seeing approximately 65% of the community experiencing an intolerance to maize.
- No Soft Drink – None at all, it doesn’t matter what type of drink it is they are all dangerous to the health of our children. No sports drinks, no energy drinks, no canned drinks! Let’s get some juice and smoothie bars happening. Don’t forget water, good quality, filtered water should e freely available in every classroom, after all, no water = no learning.
- No Coffee – No doubt some teens love the coffee high but the coffee low is frying their brains in the afternoon. If teachers want coffee put a coffee machine in the teacher’s lounge but coffee is not helping teachers or students focus in the afternoons.
- Don’t be a corner store – At a corner store or petrol station we expect to find highly processed, pre-packaged items like ice-blocks, chips and lollies. That is the reason many parents choose to avoid these stores but when you put them into our schools it makes it impossible for our children to avoid them, help us out here and take them out of our schools.
- No colors, flavors, preservatives or e-numbers – If our kids can’t read it, pronounce it or understand it we don’t want it in their mouths. Let’s be honest most adults can’t pronounce these ridiculously long names but we can tell you what the majority of them mean … behavioral and learning difficulties that’s what. Doesn’t this seem counter-productive?
- A plant based menu – Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of home-made ice-blocks, juices, smoothies, Mexican and Italian food which kids love and are so easy to add vegetables to. Fruit salad, crudites and dips, sweet potato chips … the list is endless … ask the kids what healthy foods they love and cook that, kids are creative you will be surprised by some of their ideas.
- Lastly and most importantly, Health over profit – With a lack of volunteers many schools are taking the easy way out and outsourcing their canteens, this is akin to privatization of the health care industry and deregulation of banking, put simply when money is the focus and people are a secondary concern money is going to win. So how do we fix this little dilemma?
How about Government incentives for canteens that adopt a better way of doing things? Wouldn’t this help everyone? It would help our canteens get creative, our children would be healthier and better able to learn, our teachers would be able to teach more effectively and as parents we would be picking up healthier, happier children that have been educated in the classroom and nourished during meal time. Isn’t that what we should all be expecting from our schools?