My Grandmother told me that when she was a little girl living on a tobacco farm, she’d sometimes get to go visit her uncle. He kept a tin of saltines and a tub of peanut butter and he would let the kids have some ‘as a treat’. It was indeed a big treat for them. That same grandmother used to let me have some ‘Co-cola’ and Ritz crackers. To me, that was a big treat.
Treats sure have come a long way.
It is hard to think of a place or an activity short of hiking where junk food beyond my Grandmother’s wildest imaginings of a ‘treat’ are not available or not furnished.
For the second year in a row, I was informed that soda would be used as a reward in my child’s school reading program. You can imagine after reading about my reaction to the changes in Breyer’s ice cream, what THAT sounded like.
The good thing about facing the same troublesome plan 2 years in a row, is that my ducks, in the form of research and written communications, were also in a row. Now I should say that we are very fortunate to live in a county with an excellent school system with which I am extremely pleased. The teachers are thoughtful, dedicated professionals who are just trying to get the reluctant readers in their classrooms to get reading. I get it. What I don’t get is the lag time between all of the research condemning soda and a concordant approach to providing soda to children.
But there it is. Old habits die hard. We all like treats. We like to provide them and we like to consume them. In fact, if you listen to Madison Ave, we all deserve a treat, today… several times a day… what the heck, how about right now?
So if you are faced with the problem of soda and/or candy, chips, etc. being offered as rewards, incentives, or just because all of the little angels truly do deserve a treat today… here is a suggestion that worked for me. Twice. Go to your county’s public school website. Look for information about policies. It may be under school board (that’s where I found mine), or it maybe under something that sounds legalistic. My county has a wellness policy for students that states that at the K-8 level, food should not often be used as a reward, and if it is, it should be healthy food. In a nutshell that’s what it says. Both years I emailed this policy to one or more teachers involved in the dreaded reading program, along with many compliments and appreciations over the difficult job that these teachers perform (and I meant them… I used to be one, and we have been blessed with GREAT teachers here). Both times the plan has been changed. This year the principle is discussing with the cafeteria manager if they can come up with something that fits the bill and they will forward a list when they have a plan.
It will be a treat to see a list devoid of soda…. and I hope other processed foods. Those of us who are concerned about our children’s diets are just going to have keep speaking up. In public, at gatherings, when planning children’s activities, wherever the group hasn’t yet realized that soda is not a treat, it’s a poison. It is not a sustaining beverage, it is a poison. Soda is a poison that is weakening this nation. I know that is high drama, but I believe it to be true. We had better start fighting back because the beverage companies have a powerful ally beyond lawyers and lots of money. The even more powerful ally that they have is our desire to give and get treats. I”ve heard it said that this probably stems from our hunter/gatherer ancestors who had to take advantage of a honeycomb or fruit tree in season, because that ‘treat’ would soon be gone with no more sugar in sight for months at a time. Whatever it is, it’s powerful. Treat yourself to some research about soda and the power of Big Food. It is scary stuff.
Your child does deserve a treat. Give them the best treat there is – the healthiest body possible to help them achieve their greatest potential? It will be a treat to see all the great things they create and do and live!