Summer Camp and Food

Lemon Cake started his summer camp at a neighborhood school a week ago. I just love being able to walk him to school. It was my wish when we moved to this neighborhood about four years ago. I thought Lemon Cake will get into this neighborhood school, I will go back to work at the same school and when Baby Banana turns three, she will also get to go to this same school. My dream was dashed when Lemon Cake’s school lottery result indicated no chance of him ever getting into that school.

Anyways, back to summer camp. This camp is awesome. It is run by the city in a public school so the cost is less than half of any other private summer programs. It runs from 8-1 with breakfast, snack and lunch all provided. There are occasional field trips like today they went to the Stone Zoo. In addition to two teachers with about twelve three years olds, there are also three teenage helpers (they are referred to as the Mayor’s kids). I also know the head teacher from my previous teaching career and have always hoped that she would be the teacher for Lemon Cake. I was so excited to find out she was going to be Lemon Cake’s teacher at summer camp. It is a super bonus when it worked out that Lemon Cake gets to go to camp with his two best friends.

As awesome as this is, I am not happy with the food choices provided by the city and yes I am complaining about free food. If Lemon Cake gets to have whatever he wants at school, he will most likely end up having juice, sugary cereal like cocoa puffs and chocolate milk every day. They do make an effort with a healthy lunch like fruits, vegetables, whole wheat bun, cheese, turkey, chicken…etc. Of course Lemon Cake barely touches his lunch besides the fruits. I do not understand why any of those sugary choices need to be options at any school. I later found out that according to USDA guidelines, cocoa puff is considered a grade A snack, and that ketchup and French fries apparently count as vegetables. I am very glad our own family does not eat according to this so called guideline. I decided to take control and asked the teacher to withhold juice and chocolate milk from him (yes maybe that makes me a helicopter parent). I provide a fruit sauce crush for him in his backpack so he has something when everyone else is having juice. I am not one of those parents who don’t let their kids have any treats. Lemon Cake definitely gets to have ice cream, juice, and cookies on a limited but regular basis.  Food is a big topic for me and warrants another blog post.  It probably is a big topic for many parents. I grew up in a very unhealthy eating environment. My mom was overly strict, my dad didn’t pay attention and my paternal grandparents were overly indulgent. They only lived ten minutes walking distance away so guess what, I binged fast foods, sugary snacks and pastries all I can when I was with them. I don’t need to tell you I was quite overweight as a child and later on as a teenager. I took me YEARS to be able to feel in control and be able to eat healthily and not overly obsessed with how much I weighed or how I looked. It did not contribute well to my emotional well-being and I would not wish it on anybody. I recognize that there is only so much I can “control” with the kids’ eating habits especially as they get older, and I would never want to get into a power struggle pattern over food. I should be focused on introducing and maintaining healthy eating habits and being a good role model ourselves as parents.  

Luckily, the teachers have been very accommodating with my request and were not entirely in agreement with the provision of juice and sugary cereal either. I don’t know if I have made the right decision or not and I know that ultimately it is not a big deal in this particular situation. However, the thought of having that much sugar a day in a school setting truly appalls me. What would you have done?

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One thought on “Summer Camp and Food

  1. I work in public health and it is amazing what USDA considers to be healthy. I think that if we could make some small changes in that system, we would see the prevalence of childhood obesity go down, especially for kids on free and reduced lunch in schools during the school year! I too am not opposed to a few splurges, but I have battled my weight all my life, even with parents who enforced a rather healthy diet and I know how hard it is.

    I am not surprised that you are unhappy with the food. It is too bad that you have the opportunity to get free food as part of this program and these are the choices. Sounds like the rest of camp is pretty great though!!

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