Saturday, February 25, 2006

What is that on Your Tongue?

I have been making all kinds of observations lately regarding the students I teach. Perhaps it is because we are about to go on an extended break and I want to get in my last digs since I won't see my students for a month.

Today, let's talk about what my students eat. When I was a kid, I was a little weird; at least in relation to my peers. At the breakfast table, my brother would be eating his Froot Loops, and I would be eating Nutri-Grain. Sure I enjoy the occasional junk food, but overall, I have always eaten pretty healthy. That makes it even harder for me to come to grips with what I see my students eat every day. Either what they bring to school, or what they eat in the cafeteria makes me want to retch. What is even more frustrating is that much of the behavior I see in class is most likely caused by the crap that my students eat before they come to school, during or between classes, and especially, what they eat for lunch. I would love to be a fly on the wall and watch what some of my "ADHD" students generally eat during the day.

It's late and I'm tired, so let me just expound on a couple bullet points listing my biggest issues:

1.) Flamin' Hot Cheetos - I can tell when a student has been eating this vile snack food - the student's tongue is flamin' red. These are full of artificial coloring and flavor, which studies have shown to be linked to food allergies and hyperactivity.

2.) Flavored Sugar Packets - Try as I might to catch them, some students always get away with consuming these things during class. I know they do, because later on, I find the evidence on my classroom floor. That's what a kid needs at 10 in the morning: pure refined sugar and food coloring.

3.) The Cafeteria Snack Bar - During lunch time, I have occasionally strolled over to the cafeteria to see what is going on over there, and let me tell you, it ain't pretty. The chaos is such that I can't spend very much time there before I go sprinting back to the solitude of my empty classroom. During the time I have been able to endure, I have noted that the students have two options in the cafeteria. They can get the free or reduced price regular meal, or they can spend their own money at the snack bar, which serves pizza, fried foods, and drinks loaded with sugar. This is just what they need to consume before showing up for my afternoon classes (!). The regular meal is nothing to shout about either. It is all prepackaged or prepared in a microwave. I attended elementary and middle school in the 1980s. The food wasn't gourmet, but it was prepared mostly from scratch by honest to goodness cooks who worked all day in that cafeteria. Of course I and my fellow students complained about the food at the time, but the food served in today's school cafeterias really does make the fare that I received 20 years ago truly seem like a gourmet meal.

4.) Not a Brown Bag Lunch to be Seen - I always chuckle when I overhear students complaining about having to spend most of their lunchtime standing in line at the cafeteria. I have asked some of those students why they don't just bring their own lunch, so that way, they won't have to stand in line at all. The students usually look at me as if I am from another solar system. I think that some of my students might not know that the option of brown-bagging their lunch even exists.

I find it so funny that educators, doctors, and politicians wring their hands about the obesity and bad health epidemics that are plaguing today's youth, and yet, look at what kind of food these same people serve our youth, or allow to be served to our youth. Meanwhile, I am the one in the frontline trenches who has to deal with the behavioral fallout of these horrible choices of nutrition.

Good Day to You, Sir (and while your sitting there, pass the vegetables!)


George said...

Could it be that the brown bag has become a badge of shame in the poor community, just like wearing Payless shoes is?

Name brand food or generic brown bag? Name brand is always better because it shows that I can afford the "good stuff".

Be seen with Cheetos and a Pepsi. . . it complements the Nike's and the NFL jersey.

How many of their parents, even though they are "poor", spend $5-7 dollars a day on lunch?

How many of my students barely make it to school, with a binder and a pencil, let alone a lunch?

Lunch, like everything else, is a matter of values.

Chanman said...

You failed to mention Luncheables!

George said...

What a disgusting invention! My own children are frequently requesting them. I preach against them constantly.

The middle-class I'm sure is guilty of sending kids off with those disgusting things.

George said...

What a disgusting invention! My own children are frequently requesting them. I preach against them constantly.

The middle-class I'm sure is guilty of sending kids off with those disgusting things.