Some students in Ontario have launched a Kony-esque campaign to bring “junk food” back to school cafeterias. You can check out their video here.
As a public health dietitian in Ontario I was mandated to support the implementation of this policy. However, I have very mixed feelings about it and now that I’m no longer in that position I feel that I can voice them more freely. I think that the foods that the policy targets are not necessarily the sensible foods to be targeting (for example, a chocolate chip granola bar will make the cut but the same brand of granola bar with almonds added will not because it contains too much fat!). Replacing regular potato chips with baked chips (and then categorizing those chips as a vegetable) strikes me as ludicrous. Again, the government was swayed by the lobbying of the dairy farmers and chocolate milk made the cut. Many of the foods that are still permitted for sale in schools are of poor nutritional quality but are being pushed as healthy choices. What is this teaching parents and students? Clearly, there are major flaws with the policy.
While I agree with the students that removing all of the “junk food” is not teaching them to make healthy choices I also believe that it is wrong for schools to be profiting from sales of nutritionally void to students. Schools should be nurturing children’s minds and bodies. Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers. I’m not sure how to reconcile these two concerns. Perhaps school cafeterias should be prevented from being profit-driven. Then we might see the development of more creative and appealing meals and snacks for sale in the schools.