Schools Are Hypocrites When It Comes To Nutrition and Education

Posted on Oct 13 2010 - 3:39am by Mike Lieberman

I think the public school system needs to be called out on their hypocrisy when it comes to nutrition and education. Jamie Oliver said it best when it comes to food and what’s going on, “You can’t scream about bad health on one hand and then strategically feed them crap everyday on the other.”

That is what pretty much what happens in the school system when it comes to food and food education. I am not saying that it is the sole responsibility of the education system to educate kids on food, the parents are just as responsible.

The schools don’t help the matter at all when they host such events as “McTeacher Night.” Yes, you read that right. It’s called “McTeacher Night.”

The whole idea and concept is absurd. It sickens me that schools, principals and teachers are on board with this program and get excited about it.

This is when teachers work for a night at McDonald’s and encourage their students to come in to buy McDonald’s. The store is generous enough to donate some of the profits back to the school. C’mon? Really?

Of course the kids get all excited about wanting to see their teacher (an authority figure) working at McDonald’s so they put the pressure on their parents to go and buy food. Yes, the parents could still very well stand firm and say no.

As principals and as teachers, they should be ashamed of themselves for promoting such crap to kids. Looking at childhood obesity and instances of diabetes, then promoting McDonald’s…let’s use some common sense.

The food that is served in school cafeteria’s is jacked up with sugar and other processed ingredients. There was an article on Change.org Sustaiable food section that said kids get nearly half of their calories from junk food. Surely some of this is coming from school served meals.
There are also the candy sales that I’m sure still go on as well. I know that schools are hard up for money. I get that, but there has to be other ways to raise money that don’t involve killing the kids.

There was an article on Rodale.com about how gardens should be a part of the classroom. The article sites a study done at University of California – Berkeley that shows -

…that when schools teach some classes in the school’s garden and kitchen, and offer healthy fare in their cafeterias, it has a very clear and positive impact on kids’ diets. And on their attitudes towards food: Kids not only eat more fruits and vegetables, they know more about nutrition.

I am by no means saying that school gardens should supply food for the whole school. I believe that food should be sourced from local farms, but that’s a separate post.

Getting gardens and coursework built around the gardens would be a great way to discuss real food and nutrition with students. It could be fun and get them interested.

This is one of the reasons that I did the Urban Kinder-Garden Workshop last year and will do another this year. It gets the parents involved, helping to educate them. It gets the kids involved and gets them excited about what’s going on, thus making them ask their parents to do this at home.

The education system has been broke for a while. A program like this implemented by school’s would show that they are committed to truly educating kids about food and nutrition.

What are some other programs ideas that schools can start?


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=687188148 Leah Stoltz

    A couple years ago when my son was still in public school, (We were in Langley, British Columbia) the school had a deal with some farmers to bring food for snacks. There was farms all around, so i thought this was awesome. But.. the apples were all sliced and wrapped up like Mcdonalds does it! Why? why can’t kids grab an apple and eat it, like it’s intended. they had a good idea, and they had to change it it and make it “easier” ? cause apples are difficult? Perhaps they felt kids wouldn’t eat it unless it had to go packaging?

    sick stuff…. and we’re homeschoolers now. schools just dont care, and that’s not good enough for my kid

  • Mike Lieberman

    It’s strange what people do and the rationale behind it.

  • Holly

    When The Dinner Garden talks to schools, we usually bring fresh fruit and veggies so the kids can learn how to find and save seeds. The kids are never allowed to eat the fruit and veggies because they are not USDA inspected, even though they come from the grocery store. One place we went, they told the kids they couldn’t eat the fresh strawberries we brought, but pulled out packages of oranges in gelatin for the kids. We have talked to many many schools that want to do school gardens, but they aren’t allowed to let the kids eat the produce grown in the gardens because it hasn’t been USDA approved. Messed up, right?

  • Mike Lieberman

    It’s beyond messed up. It’s all that’s pretty much wrong with our society.

  • Anonymous

    good post. definitely agree though a very tough subject. school funding has definitely been slashed over the last couple years here in BC and I’m sure it’s similar in Canada and the US. With the state of the economy I only see cutbacks continuing. This puts schools in a tough position for funding.

    So in comes a corporation offering a new X or $$$ if you do Y. If the school is hurting it’s really hard to say no. Once one corporation is integrated into the school, it’s much easier for others to get in and much harder to get them out when they start providing money that is needed for essential services.

  • Anonymous

    probably thought the apples had germs because they weren’t sprayed with febreze.

  • Mike Lieberman

    True indeed. Corporations run and own the country.

  • Ysmeine

    I had the same feeling about where I work. They train some of the residents to garden as a form of rehabilitation and even have a nursery. Ironically, the day to day menu is often filled with crap. It is overproccessed food with few nutrients left in it. Then they leave fresh produce for the staff to take home. Actually, I enjoy that part. The problem is they need to follow a set meal plan, like schools, that are created by governed policies. The same policies that declared ketchup a vegetable.

    The fundraising, I have seen in various forms.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Yes. It’s so strange to see it in action.

  • Pure2raw Twins

    Great post. We totally agree; we feel there is so much work to be done with the school systems and how they look at food and nutrition! I wish more schools not only discussed eating healthy but bringing in the fitness side of things too, because to me they go hand in hand :)

  • Mike Lieberman

    Agreed. They totally do, but are treated individually. It would be great if schools integrated both of them.

  • Mstuhlman29

    Your not just teaching them about nutrition but you also ways to go “green” using recyclable materials. You are also building their self confidence and allowing their imaginations to grow as you get them to think outside the proverbial “box”. I commend you for your community outreach.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks. Starting to plan to do another one this year.

  • Abigail

    Great post.
    Our public schools have to follow federal guidelines for their education programs, so their nutrition programs have to agree with the FDA. …And we all know how much the FDA knows about what it means to be healthy… *rolls eyes* As long as the FDA exists, and/or schools are under the thumb of the federal government, kids will not learn (in school) the truth about genetically modified foods, the dangers of too much soy and high fructose corn syrup, how steroids injected into animals affect the quality of their meats and milks, why chemically processed flours mess up your system, and how many pesticides you’re really eating when you bite into that apple. The government pays lip service to healthful foods, but does nothing to combat the real problems.
    The money issue is another important factor. There are companies contracted to provide the food for lunches at schools, and the only way these companies can make a profit is to provide food that is as cheap as possible. ~Enter breads laden with chemicals and artificial fillers, meat from animal-abusing industrial farms, potatoes fried in GMO oils, fruits and vegetables that have been processed to death, drinks infused with HFCS, etc. (In all fairness, I went to private schools growing up, and the food quality was pretty much the same there as well. I’ve also noticed that food in hospitals is of the same quality I’m talking about. I’m sure it’s a money issue.)
    But really, while it’s convenient and comforting somehow to blame the schools, what you say is true– the responsibility lies on >>parents<< to keep their kids healthy. Time to own up. There's no excuse anymore for ignorance about how to be healthy. My mom always made us kids bring bag lunches to school. It saved money, and it was 10 times more healthful than the crap my peers were eating. I didn't appreciate it at the time, but now I say, "Go Mom!" And when my babies are old enough to enter school, I'm going to do the same thing to them. :)

  • Abigail

    Great post.
    Our public schools have to follow federal guidelines for their education programs, so their nutrition programs have to agree with the FDA. …And we all know how much the FDA knows about what it means to be healthy… *rolls eyes* As long as the FDA exists, and/or schools are under the thumb of the federal government, kids will not learn (in school) the truth about genetically modified foods, the dangers of too much soy and high fructose corn syrup, how steroids injected into animals affect the quality of their meats and milks, why chemically processed flours mess up your system, and how many pesticides you’re really eating when you bite into that apple. The government pays lip service to healthful foods, but does nothing to combat the real problems.
    The money issue is another important factor. There are companies contracted to provide the food for lunches at schools, and the only way these companies can make a profit is to provide food that is as cheap as possible. ~Enter breads laden with chemicals and artificial fillers, meat from animal-abusing industrial farms, potatoes fried in GMO oils, fruits and vegetables that have been processed to death, drinks infused with HFCS, etc. (In all fairness, I went to private schools growing up, and the food quality was pretty much the same there as well. I’ve also noticed that food in hospitals is of the same quality I’m talking about. I’m sure it’s a money issue.)
    But really, while it’s convenient and comforting somehow to blame the schools, what you say is true– the responsibility lies on >>parents<< to keep their kids healthy. Time to own up. There's no excuse anymore for ignorance about how to be healthy. My mom always made us kids bring bag lunches to school. It saved money, and it was 10 times more healthful than the crap my peers were eating. I didn't appreciate it at the time, but now I say, "Go Mom!" And when my babies are old enough to enter school, I'm going to do the same thing to them. :)

  • Yahoo

    that’s not as bad as my high school school that claims to be going healthy by making everything wheat bread and reducing portions to ridiculous sizes but in the same line sells giant cookies and ice cream

  • Mike Lieberman

    The responsibility is absolutely on the parents, but most of the parents need an education themselves.

  • Mike Lieberman

    The hypocrisy is insane.

  • Pingback: School Gardens: Rejected for Ridiculous Reasons | Urban Organic Gardener

  • Megan

    the amount of money that can be saved towards other school programs by cutting back food costs by growing their own produce is astounding. Schools can become more self efficient, by making their own compost from garbage and growing it themselves, providing healthy food, and teaching both students and teachers about awareness for the environment. If the school board of education werent lazy and greedy then I can see a more productive healthy outlook for everyone. FDA needs to get off their butts and stop taking bribes from these mulitbillion dollar companies to promote places like Mcdonalds

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Very well said.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Definitely sounds like it’s being used for the administrators and not the students. That’s f’d up, but not too much of a surprise.

  • http://www.esvasa.com Vandana

    Just goes to show how schools can be hypocrites in any country… we had Mcdonalds’ support a HEALTH CAMP at a school in Delhi a while ago! The whole point of healthy or junk food is lost on parents and the kids  the moment you do that. While http://www.esvasa.com promotes healthy and sustainable organic living, we’re still a long way off from even basic healthy and nutritive food in schools.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    True. True.