I was smack in the middle of my morning ritual, groggily sipping coffee while nursing my CNN addiction, when a news crawl recently stopped me mid-cup: “Half-Baked: New York City mom fights bake sale ban.”
It turns out the folks who run one of our country’s largest public school systems have decided that bake sales are the reason our kids are obese. They say the regular sale of brownies, cupcakes and cookies is making our kids fat, and effective immediately, bake sales are banned.
We live in a culture where we love to kid ourselves. We pay lip service to improving the health of our kids, yet many enjoy less recess and PE time than ever. And have you been through your child’s lunch line lately? Let’s just say the options make the stuff Edith served Archie look like five-star cuisine. At my son’s school, they serve hot dogs, chicken nuggets and pizza—that’s three days’ worth of meals that far from provide the protein and vitamins he needs to focus, learn and grow.
In our home life, we’re not crazy health nuts by any means. We love sweets. We eat our share of burgers and pasta. But I balance it all with healthful choices. Fruits and veggies are a daily staple. Treats are treated as treats. I’m not perfect, but I’m neither blind nor deaf, either. I hear and see what is going on around us. I pack my son Javier’s lunch every day, which is something this single working mom wishes she didn’t have to do. But it minimizes my worry that when he runs toward the bake sale table at school (I’m sure there are track marks to prove this), there’s nothing healthy in his body to go along with it.
Still, of all the reasons that our kids are fat—and they are, in fact getting there, with 1 in 6 now considered obese and in danger of developing diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure before reaching adulthood—I find it hard to believe that the occasional bake sale is at the root of all evil.
What’s it going to take for us to take the health of our kids—and ourselves—seriously? Why are we worrying about bake sales when the “aha moment” should be about how we’re cutting short our lives—literally? We’re not talking higher taxes or gas prices, but the actual length of time we’ll have on this planet to watch our kids graduate, learn to drive a car, and grow into happy adults who, hopefully, give us oodles of grandbabies to spoil, perhaps with the occasional brownie.
This fall, public schools will be required to increase the nutrition standards of all meals they serve. This means offering fruits and veggies daily (revolutionary), more whole grains, plus fat-free and low-fat milk only. For better or worse, the government is now involved, and I have to admit, this brings me great comfort because so far, we’ve done little to move the needle, let alone ourselves. We sign up our kids for tennis, soccer and ballet, but many of us haven’t run anything but errands in months. Those TV shows we watch for hours a day? The irony is a slew of them focus on weight loss. Why are we so much more comfy watching other people eat right and exercise than doing it ourselves?
I think all of this sound way worse than the occasional bake sale. But hey, maybe that’s just me.