I’ve been thinking about whatever the people at the capital were smoking and drinking when they passed the SHAPE bill. While thinking about it, I heard this odd “ring-a-ling-ling” outside my window along with some sort of weird music. I looked outside, and there was a white van slowly driving around the neighborhood, and then it drove on to the next neighborhood. Then it came back. It was the ice cream van. The strategy is simple: ring the bell, play silly music and roll through so all the kids see and hear you, then drive off. By the time you get back, the kids will have begged the parents for money or raided their piggy banks and will be waiting. This took place early in the evening, after school.
Most of the waking hours of children are spent away from school. While it is certainly a significant part of their young lives it is not the majority as they are in school for only about 180 days out of the year. And yet, the Georgia senate passed a bill mandating that schools take the BMI of all their students and then aggregate the data to come up with an average for their school. Those with a BMI that is too high will be deemed “Unhealthy Schools.”
Oddly enough, one of the biggest and best supporters of our schools is a place in town that offers a low priced pizza buffet, often giving away coupons for free meals for the book reading clubs and good behavior or academic performance. Chick-fil-et offers fundraiser nights at their restaurants for individual schools. The PTA uses bake sales to raise money. The Girl Scouts sell cookies!
There are many problems with this whole concept that lawmakers did not take into consideration. All summer long, that blasted ice cream van is going to be rolling through our neighborhood. While kids are going to be outside exercising, they are also going to be eating happy meals and lining up with their parents in the buffet line. Church picnics and family reunions will be featuring fried chicken, potato salad and cakes and pies of every sort. And the school can not do a thing about church and family traditions. Here in the south, fried chicken and barbecued pork are religions! And going through hot Georgia summers without ice cream…whose idea was this, anyway?
It’s true that there are some seriously overweight kids around here, but most of the time all you have to is look at the parents to see where that is coming from. Schools can not, nor should they, turn out people who all look the same. We can and do educate our children about healthy lifestyles but if the parents aren’t going to do it, how far are the kids going to go with it?
Schools are tasked with far too much as it is. If the government is serious about this, they need to tax fattening foods in order to pay for educating ALL people about healthy lifestyles. Food choices are mostly about culture, and activity levels reflect the family lifestyle. I’m not serious about the tax because it would impact poor families the most, which is what this bill also does. It will impact the poorest schools the most, just like every other unfunded mandate that comes from Washington or Atlanta.