I was visiting a school and kids at a table just outside the gym door were selling treats to raise funds for a class outing. “Will you buy something?” they entreated.
“What do you have that’s healthy?” I asked. They were stymied. They had a wide variety of chocolate bars, chips and baked goods for sale. They suggested a fruit juice box but a quick check of the label revealed it was packed with sugar. The only healthy thing I could find were sticks of cheese. The irony of the sales table being just outside the gym door where the kids take their Physical Well Being classes wasn’t lost on me.
There were lots of positives to the kids’ sales venture. They were learning how to interact politely with the public, how to handle and count money, the importance of managing costs and profits and they were working together to achieve a goal. Could they have learned those things just as well if their sales table had featured fruits and vegetables, popcorn, yogurt, sunflower seeds, pistachios and whole grain or rice crackers? I understand those things might have been hard to sell.
It will take some doing to get kids to think healthy treats can be just as delicious and satisfying as unhealthy ones. But it’s a change of perspective families, schools and governments need to work at seriously if we are going to combat childhood obesity and promote more healthy lifestyles for kids. Thinking about what kinds of things we sell for fundraisers- cookies, candies and chocolates might be a good place to start.