Is the School Canteen now just a memory of the past?

Can someone PLEASE step away from the school canteen!!

No seriously I mean it! I feel like right now I have to go into bat for the school canteen, because clearly our government and nanny state is out to ruin childhood memories!

This morning it has been announced that there is now a new list of foods being removed from school canteens and this includes banning or severely restricting butter, nutella, VEGEMITE (yes you read that right – that is a partial criminal offence and the most un-Australian thing EVER!), pies (also un-Aussie) and fairy bread!

Now firstly I am an advocate for healthy, balanced eating but this over control of what children are allowed to eat at school has got to stop…so too does the endless conversation and focus on food which is creating the very issue that it’s trying to solve.

I understand that we have a growing obesity problem in this country, but what is more concerning is that we have a growing eating disorders problem! We have an even more alarming increase on eating related problems and that encompasses everything from obesity to anorexia and also includes obsessive eating behaviours that often go un-diagnosed but create an immense amount of anxiety to individuals.

While I think there is a need to be focused on health and healthy eating, we have now spent years focussing on the “obesity crisis” and it seems, if all statistics are in fact correct to not really be helping! Why? well that’s because it’s not being dealt with on a case by case basis but more of a mass problem which is not how eating related issues can be managed.

It’s not a mass problem, it’s individual. Everyone’s metabolisms work differently. Every household runs differently and no one person or government can control it all.

I fear for my children. I want them to enjoy every aspect of going to school and that includes the occasional treat from the tuck shop. But now we are removing that right from them too.

At some stage we need to step back and say it’s up to the individual to control and that’s now! If my kids eat a full healthy balanced diet, are active and have a healthy metabolism then why the hell can’t they have a meat pie of a Friday for lunch from the canteen? Because of someone else’s problems? That’s not making for a fair society either!

Perhaps, if little Tommy has nothing but chips and chocolate in his lunch box every day and a visible issue with weight then maybe the school can offer intervention, but why should all the other kids miss out?!

Getting a canteen lunch was a golden memory of school! For me it was the excitement of knowing that on Friday’s I would hand in my little brown bag and eagerly await the morning tea and lunch surprises! I was a skinny runt of a child who never ate well and got worse as a teen so the fact that something excited me food wise was always a bonus!

My Mum who is a self-confessed lunch maker failure would send me off with endless soggy sandwiches and mandarins which would more than likely end up in the bin with me not eating much at all, so she felt some relief on canteen days when the load was off her and I was excited about what I got.

It was only ever once a week, that was the rule. It didn’t matter what other kids did, that was our house rule. I could never wait to run up at morning tea and get my english muffins with vegemite and cheese and oh the excitement of getting a warm pie or pizza pocket on a freezing cold day or a delish (well I thought it was then) devon and sauce sambo on white bread with butter! Yum!

The thing that matters to me now more than anything was the fondness with which I now look back on those days. Part of my school memories revolve around the canteen and I think it’d heartbreaking to think that my kids won’t experience that, particularly as energetic, growing boys!

There’s a problem, yes. But the solution is not to drag everyone down in one group. No the solution is 2 fold – provide help and assistance to ones that need and accept you can’t change and control everything! There are some out there that will still eat poorly no matter what they are getting at school!

I know that we can’t go back to the old days but can we still give the kids of today some treats….please!!!!!!! I’ll be honest rice paper rolls, humous, bean and corn salad and a veg-o-rama burger sound more like the strict stuff I keep myself on as an adult, not what should be the options in the school canteen!

Let’s put a bit of balance back in it…Keep the fruit and salad but also keep the pie, schnitty and nutella and what ever you do, do not restrict the vegemite…that’s simply a criminal offence!