I had a private conversation with myself on the way to the school food forum meeting, “Meme you are going to sit back and watch – DON’T VOLUNTEER for anything – you are slammed already with life and work as it is – we are not in Malibu to redo a schools food policy.”
I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people that showed up at 8am, not to mention the wonderful introduction the Colonel and the Coach gave, the administration is 100% in favor of shifting the school’s food policy and creating a much healthier environment. This was a relief because I’d thought based on hear-say that they were going to be the difficult part in the equation. The Colonel himself has dealt with diabetes and shifted his health into a positive direction with food awareness. The Coach too who runs the student store has battled the same issue and came out on top. Coach had brought in an example of what he sells at the student store and one of the Healthy Momma’s picked it up reading the ingredients giving us a breakdown of what unhealthy stuff was in it – or as I like to call it FAKE versus REAL – ’cause to me it’s not about Good Food versus Bad Food – that is a thing of the past and doesn’t get us anywhere now we need to educate people to eat REAL FOOD.
Immediately one of the Sugar Momma’s got in the ring defending the crap (seriously) and attacking the Healthy Momma saying. “I teach my kids what to buy and not to buy and they know better. So I don’t give them any money to buy it if I don’t like it. It’s all about you and how your parenting- I have no problem with this stuff.” Well you know where that went for 10 minutes – battlefield. I got in the game asking them all if we were all there to create a healthier student store and bake sale? The answer? NO! A handful of these people were so dead set against giving up the pringles, m&m cookies and birthday cupcakes that you’d a thought the healthy momma’s were trying to pass out condoms – not whole grains!!!!
Then the Diet Soda Warrior went OFF and not in the Healthy Mommas favor! Yep, waving a diet soda with a big old SPLENDA written across the top – carrying on about how once and a while a little red food dye isn’t enough to give their kid cancer and beside we all have cancer in our bodies (this point is true as study’s have shown weakened immune systems are linked to high numbers of cancer) what I wasn’t able to say was: sugar weakens the immune system and every 4 grams is equal to one teaspoon – the cookies in question had 18 grams =’s just over 4 teaspoons – so I say this is not a positive snack choice for a mid day school break. Do kids need 4 teaspoons of sugar especially since we know it is linked to lack of focus? The Diet Soda Warrior’s rant continued as they waved the diet soda some more. Mind you this cancer reference was just after I’d finished telling my story regarding the diagnosis regarding intestinal cancer that I faced a few years back. Their rant stung like a bee.
Finally I pushed my chair back from the table, “I’m Shocked” slipped from below my breath. I couldn’t and can’t believe that in Malibu, California there was a room full of women and men fighting to keep the damn cookie! I don’t KNOW of an elementary school that sells crap on the playground anymore. I could feel all the invisible energetic daggers thrown my way, I stumbled with my words having lost my footing. Of all the places I’ve taught NEVER have I experienced such rage and anger regarding shifting a food policy. My goodness, even in the deep south where many people I’ve spoken to believe that macaroni and cheese is a vegetable totally UNDERSTOOD the need to remove processed foods and sugar, especially when in relationship to our kids.
I tried to express myself but all I could do was pick my jaw up off of the ground, then I had a thought – these people are the parents of my children’s peers – if I get in the ring with them then our relationship will effect my girls – it’s a tiny school and y’all know hate can spread. I want my girls to be happy and supported, I don’t have a dog in this hunt – I AM running my home kitchen, packing lunches and as much as I’d like to support a student store and 8th grade bake sale I can just say NO to my girls when they ask for a dollar; Sugar Ray I ain’t.
Even when I told them that I would teach the kids to cook, that if they implemented a food policy and created a HEALTHY student store this could influence the enrollment, especially since I’m working with preschool mommas in the the community – teaching them to cook real foods. They still threw their daggers. Then I gave them fuel, I said, “Hey we can even make cupcakes using black or white beans instead of flour.”(click here for recipe) The crowd roared and they have been blasting me with bombs ever since – ! WHAT how dare you feed our kids beans – we want refined sugars & flours! How dare you add fiber to their diets! The big concern was that kids like to eat things that are bright and playful – sprinkles & M&M’s… SERIOUSLY?
I gotta tip: If you want food to be more appealing to your families tell them that it will help them focus, remain calm, learn easier, keep colds away, help them grow and allow them the opportunity to grow OLD and not miss out on life due to suffering from a preventative disease. Explain to them where food comes from, visit farms, cook fresh produce with them – hold a line with them and be the ADULT.
Why are we as adults PROJECTING our issues and unhealthy traditions & food cravings onto our children? Why do we have to decorate food, make it pink & pretty – have we not learned from the cereal aisle in the grocery store where this thinking leads us?
Finally the meeting came to an end, a handful of folks lingered, they were the ones on the Healthy Momma’s teams & the Colonel, who truly believe in foods that support the body as opposed to those that crash it.
I left in a spin cycle, what had just happened? What was I going to do? I’d offered to teach but at what price, becoming the target for anger and fear?
That night tucked under my down comforter my mind spun in circles, dang I’d stepped in a big pile of stinky shadubbie – how in the heck was I going to back out and WHY did I think I needed to volunteer to teach folks that don’t want to learn. I sent a late night email to the Colonel telling him I was too afraid to get involved, his reply was “Lets talk”.
I entered his office the next morning and was greeted with a hug, then I plopped down onto the couch a jumble and bumble of words flying from my mouth – and there he sat high above “the traffic” holding an aerial point of view, calm as a Colonel. I stopped my rant and felt God’s hand on my shoulder, guiding me back, reminding me of my agreement with life – I’d crawled on my knees before the Tilma in Mexico City, praying to Our Lady Of Guadalupe at my sickest and weakest that when I was well I would share my energy and health, that as long as I remain well I will be of service. As I glanced into the Colonel’s face I saw we are the same; he came out of retirement to resurrect this tiny school proving that life is about being of service.
I told him my plans, OK so I will teach the 8th grade class 5 lessons starting with cooking WHOLE grains, moving onto legumes, vegetables – leafy greens included, fish omega 3′s, a soup and ending with a dessert at the end of the series the kids can then prepare “A Meal That Heals” – having learned about food from a different perspective- one where food actually has a job & a purpose.
Looks like I’m fixin’ to roll into the deep, I just hope I’m a strong enough swimmer & the red dye sharks stay at bay.