Monday, August 28, 2006

The Cupcake Controversy

The St. Pete Times discusses The Cupcake Controversy today. Our schools are now limited to offering cupcakes or cakes only three times a year.

"The new elementary school guidelines also eliminate fried foods and limit sugar to 30 grams per 8-ounce serving. In middle schools, the policy limits french fries to three portions per week and reduces servings of carbonated beverages from 20 ounces to 16.9 ounces. French fries must not exceed 4.5 ounces per serving in high schools, and students may only purchase one serving at a time."

Some parents are angry. Apparently it's become a new tradition to send cupcakes to school when it's your kid's birthday but these high calorie, nutritient-deficient goodies are not a healthy choice!

We have become America The Fat. 61% of us are overweight. Additionally, we struggle with other health issues which are related to eating poorly. Do we really want to continue with these new habits that are literally affecting "the bottom line"?

When I was growing up, cakes, cookies, candybars and pies were all considered to be treats. They weren't a daily or weekly occurrence. When one of us had a birthday, it wasn't accompanied by cupcakes.

This is just symptomatic of our nation's problem as a whole. We have become so self-indulgent that we forget our past and assume it's our due. Parents should be happy that the school system is concerned about their childrens' nutrition. And instead of complaining about the banned cupcakes, they need to begin to find creative alternatives.

"I think it's good to be healthy, but I think we're losing sight of the bigger picture," said Debi Turner, the principal at Blanton Elementary in St. Petersburg. "Chances are, these kids aren't having cake every night at home."

She's most likely correct. They're probably having a boxful of Twinkies, instead.


michelle said...

I am willing to bet you know my answer Saur.

I am thrilled to death that this is the new policy. Junk food in school is ridiculous. If a treat is to be given it needs to be brain power food. How about peanut butter crackers. They even make ceral bars with M&M's or chocolate chips. Buy them for the kids instead of a chocolate chip cookie or choclate cupcake.

Personally I see no reason to send in birthday snacks to a class. There are 20 -35 kids in a class depending on the grade. That is a hell of a lot of cupcakes in one year.

I will stop now. Thanks for letting me vent.

daveawayfromhome said...

No, no, let'em gorge. We'll need all that fat to live on when our over-extended economy collapses and the Asian countries holding our debt stop shovelling cash our way.

Ed Abbey said...

Although I like reducing the amount of junk food in our schools, I don't believe for a minute that it is even a significant factor in the obesity epidemic. Parenting is the number one factor in obesity! I've found parents with healthy eating styles almost always have healthy kids.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Michelle, Good ideas! I especially like the Vitamin C gummies. I also saw a photo with a caption mentioning frozen yogurt as an alternative but they didn't credit the parent that brought it. (Good call, anon parent!) ;o)

I must be honest: I am not thrilled with cereal bars for the same reason I'm not thrilled with cupcakes, but they do have slightly more nutritive value.

I guess I was spoiled. I was brought up by nutrition conscious parents (particularly my mom) who taught us a love for vegetables. My family still cracks up about the time I was a little girl and passed up a donut for an extra helping of spinach (I still would).

Daveawayfromhome, so pitifully true.

Ed, no doubt that parenting plays the major role in the epidemic. However, if a parent is doing a poor job, and the schools are temporary guardians, the schools should do what they can to ameliorate the bad parenting. Additionally, these new policies may actually cause some kids to think. They may be able to make certain healthy choices in the future because they were exposed to them there.

~Deb said...

And now, the people who are overweight are suing big chains like McDonald's and other fast food restaurants for their weight problem. Studies show that food in itself has an addicting quality--those that we love to eat. They did brain scans and it showed that when someone ate their favorite food--they wanted much more than the average serving.

GAWD I need to go to the gym now. This depressed me! ;)

exMI said...

Maybe if the education depts in colleges could pull their heads out of their "Self Esteem" issues they would quit telling want to be teachers how horrible gym class is for making students exercise when they might not be good at it. I shudder at the memory of how often I heard the "horror" stories of how bad it was to force chubby little Billy to dress out for exercise.
Cutting back on cupcakes will help but exercise will help too.

Edge said...

They have been doing this in Texas for a couple of years. The first year was the worst. It sounds a lot like Texas - > go figure since the Bush's have run both places.

It affects teacher's a lot. The younger the child the more the impact. Imagine a kindergaten birthday w/o cupcakes! It also affects the incentives that teachers can give. In TX you can give something with fruit in it. Believe it or not, Skittles are acceptable under this policy. I would have preferred them say diabetic candy is acceptable, because it's the sugar they're after.

But it is a good policy, but companies that get profit from vending machines, soft drinks and candy and chips DO NOT LIKE IT. And it's a weird set of rules as you go up in school concerning fried foods.


Ed Abbey said...

Regarding Deb's comment, I saw a news show where they showed images proving that junk food excited the same areas of the brain excited by users of cocaine. Of course they played the addiction card but I think it could have also been just sheer pleasure.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I'm with Dave, let American people get even fatter, survival of the fittest and all that...

Redneck Nerdboy! said...

I SOOO hear you! We put baby carrots and crackers with cheese in our li'l one's lunch pail, along with a sandwich of some sort. Healthy. She gets one granola bar for dessert (or to save for a snack later, which she usually does).

The Lazy Iguana said...

Cupcakes!??! Who cares about cupcakes?!?! What about the hurricane and the cone of death?!?!

Everyone has known for a long time that America is fat. We all know that elastic waistbands and "supersize" was invented here.

As someone who has worked for the public school system, I have witnessed with my own eyes the fat problem. When I was in Jr. High if you said "that fat kid in math class" EVERYONE knew who you were talking about. Now saying that will only confuse people.

But whose example are the kids following? I have noticed that fat parents have fat kids and vice-versa. Parents that SHOVEL down ice cream by the pound have kids that do the same. I saw this on the cruise I was just on. You could not get near the free soft serve ice cream machine because of all the fat people around the thing.

I think it is about time that school systems get real about the problem at hand. AND NO CARBONATED DRINKS! I did not have soda available to me in elementary or middle school. And to be honest, I did not need it. That stuff is poision anyway.

Anonymous said...

I really feel this makes NO difference in helping to control America's growing weight problem. This issue starts and ends in the home and until you get parents to start teaching their children good eating and exercise habits there will be no change. The government needs to stop babysitting, the only worthwhile thing the government can do is to offer parenting courses, even then, most of the overweight people will be too lazy to attend. All it takes is a little increase in activity every day and it helps, it makes a difference. Clearly overweight people are choosing a lifestyle where they will die early and have plenty of hardship along the way, and they are teaching theirs kids to follow that same path.

mckay said...

some people are shocked that my son considers yogurt, grapes, raspberries and watermelon dessert (okay, and the occasional poptart) – and dessert isn’t a nightly thing, either. it’s a special thing. my daughter hadn’t tasted cheetos or cap’n crunch until she was five - she didn’t even know what they were until we read jamie lee curtis’ children’s book. we put down the book, drove to the store and i gave my daughter a lesson in american junk food. i’m not a health fanatic, but hey, as the song says – teach your children well. My kids know the difference between everyday healthy food and special treats. my cupboard isn’t filled with cookies…unless it’s girl scout cookie time.

i like that schools are getting healthier menus. california schools have, too. i don’t consider it “government babysitting” – although the free breakfast program is a bit socialistic for my liking. my guess is a lot of the folks who send their kids to school early for the free breakfast have cable tv, cell phones and internet service at home….

And the birthday cupcake addiction starts in preschool, which rob reiner’s group wants to make a california government paid program. preschool – not the cupcakes.

FruitfulSpirit said...

I must chime in that it starts in the home. How they are taught to eat there is how they will chose what to eat out in public.

Same thing with manners. If they are show love, compassion, hear thank you and please in the home, they will show it toward others.

Same thing with how they take care of things. If they live in a pig sty and are never taught how to pick up, wash, and organize in the home, they don't have a chance of staying ahead of it in the real world!

Now having said that, my son still prefers pizza and french fries. But can cook us a healthy stir-fry on request. He is extremly polite and I never hear other wise from other people. And he knows how to wash his own clothes and clean up the kitchen.

It all starts in the home! At least that is the way I was taught and how I chose to teach my son!

Now what was the question again?

Miss Cellania said...

When I was a kid (about a million years ago), we had beans and cornbread in the school cafeteria. Rarely did we have meat. No desserts, no sodas, no "kid-friendly" food they have now, like burgers, pizza, tacos, chicken nuggets, etc. We were priviledged to have the opportunity to buy fresh popcorn once a week to fund the sports programs. Kids today think they are entitled to treats all the time.

If we would adequately fund our schools, they wouldn't be so reliant on the profits from soda companies.

Fred said...

Yeah, but they offer corn dogs every day. And all sorts of other crap.

Senor Caiman said...


Excellent post.

I pushed a woman down today at work when they announced there were leftover cupcakes in the breakroom.

I pay a great deal in property taxes in Pinellas County and I will fight this tooth and nail.

I really love yellow cake ones with chocolate frosting, goodness gracious and good gravy juice.

Mr. Fabulous said...

I don't have kids, so I had been out of touch, but back when I first started to work for the blood center (aka Gutless Weasels, Inc.) and started doing blood drives at schools it was an eye opener.

Soda machines, candy machines, hamburgers...damn.

I felt I was in another world. It was so foreign from when I was in school.

Jenn said...

Now you've got me wanting a cupcake.

Badoozie said...

back when i first started to eat cupcakes, i was young. now i'm old, and i still would like to eat them.

that makes no sense....

Lee Ann said...

I think the schools taking an active role in the nutrition of the students is good. Afterall, that is where they spend most of their waking hours!

KristieD said...

i think it is a good thing that the schools are taking an active role in children's nutritional needs. i also think it is a sad thing that the schools need to. If more families paid better attention to their diets and nutrition at home, it wouldnt fall to the schools to have to try to control the issue as much. We had a la carte lunch lines in my schools, and i would go thru them sometimes. Usually on fridays after i saved up some spare change...but my mom packed a healthy lunch for me everyday. I usually ate that, and if i was still hungry, indulged in some fries or pizza...(mmm, school pizza, i miss it so!)...But then again, i ate mostly healthy, most of the time and was very active and had (have) an active family. I was taught from an early age what healthy eating and living consisted of and made informed choices. I think that is the problem, too many families dont teach their kids at all about nutrition and such and therefore these kids have no idea what decisions to make. its sad.

Notsocranky Yankee said...

I don't have a problem with birthday cupcakes in school. But I agree that junk food needs to be limited in school. I thought it was funny that soda is now 16.9 oz. Who came up with that number? We didn't have soda in school, just milk (and chocolate milk, which I love).

green said...

ewwwwwww.......twinkies. Yuck!

I'd rather go for the unbaked Pillsbury cookie dough or the can of chocolate frosting, both of which are sitting in my freezer and fridge, respectively, as I write... mmmmm good.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

I would argue emphatically but my elbows resting on my tummy are tired. Seriously, I think that lack of physical exercise is more of a problem than what is served. I was raised pre-cafeteria, and there really isn't a lot of difference between PB and J on wonderbread and a piece of cake.
I don't passionately support the change, but it couldn't really hurt as long as there is nourishment. (I worry more about the endless chain of Frito and Chip packages between classes)

meemaw2 said...

A typical elm lunch at my child's school. Pizza or fried breaded pressed chicken concoction thrown haphazardly between slices of bread buns. A choice of scary looking peas or corn..maybe an old limp looking sliced carrott with limp celery in a cup that probably packe dlacst week and is still on the cold line because of the aforementioned reasons. The students can choose instead a rather nice looking big slab of french bread and a fruit whic is usually diced peaches in a heavy sauces along with dessert. Afterwards the student selects sugar laden chocolate milk served slightly below room temperature. After paying for their lunch they select mayo and ketchup and heavily dress their dry chick concoction sandwhich so that it is edible as it is too dry to eat without it and may break a tooth if one proceeds to quickly. The students eat the sandwhich, the bread and maybe the fruit. Next they eat the cookie and the milk. After school they eat again because all thos esimple carbs make them tired and sluggish and they need to refuel as they were not fueled properly at lunch. I have eaten at my childs school and was amazed at what they were serving the kindergarteners and up fo rlunch. I was trying to figure out why my kid put on ten pounds the first year of school. She did add a few inches in height but not enough to justify the gain. I pack her lunch, but She has also "sneaked her piggy bank money to buy ice cream at school. this is elm school !!!! I am all for the new tighter restrictions. Left to their own choices most kids will choose the junk. That is why theu have parents to help them make better choices at home. I shop for my family and have the junk pizza nights too. It is entirely different when I don't have a choice over what is sold and served in the cafe. Most of the entrees served have very little nutritive value as they are over processed pre-cooked meat patties that are full of preservatives and partially hydrogenated crap. Until they are willing to spend money making better food, my kids are packing