Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ottawa Catholic School Board's "Freezie Weeks"


Longer term readers may remember my post regarding Ottawa Catholic School Board's St. Andrew's Elementary School's weekly ice-cream sandwich and pizza days.

Well here we go again.

A kind reader of mine with children in grade 1 and 2 at Pope John XXIII Elementary wrote me to let me know about their school's junk food programs.

I'll let her describe the goings on to you,

"Jumbo freezies are given out 3 times per week for a 3 week period in order to raise money for the grade 6 class trip. Pizza Days every two weeks with a large donut. Bake sales at school where kids are encouraged to buy as much as they like. Between my two daughters, we attend soccer 4 nights a week where parents feel the need to give out Popsicles at the end of each game. That is four Popsicles a week, plus 3 freezies from school a week, pizza and a donut, a bake sale, sometimes all being consumed in one day! This is way too much sugar, in my opinion, and why is it even necessary?"
That's a great question - why is it necessary?

If you remember, the last time I complained to the Ottawa Catholic School Board, school superintendent Diane Jackson wrote a rude letter back to me where she claimed not to understand my concerns regarding weekly ice cream sandwich days for 6 year olds.

This time I'd like to try something different. This time I'd like to ask my Ottawan readers track down the junk food policies of all of the Ottawa Catholic School Board Elementary schools. With a proper list compiled perhaps the story will gain the legs it takes to leap off the blog and into the papers - and perhaps then we can see change.

So here's my request. If you've got a child in an Ottawa Catholic School Board elementary school (or really any school for that matter - let`s see what`s going on out there) please leave a comment (anonymous is fine) below with the name of the school and the junk food promotions that are in place and please circulate this blog post and request to all of your friends with children going to elementary schools in Ottawa.

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10 comments:

  1. Berrigan Elementary School in Barrhaven has the option of signing your child up for:

    1-2 slices of Mr. Mozzarella pizza (cheese or pepperoni) every Thursday throughout the school year.

    They can order from Subway every Tuesday throughout the school year.

    When the weather is warmer (ie the first 6-8 wks and the last 6-8 wks), Friday at noon hour, the kids can purchase the large Freezies (what happened to the smaller ones?), popcorn and bakesale items and the money goes towards the gr.6 class trip. The gr 6's also sell Hershey's Kisses at Valentine's Day.

    Our school council also raises money by offering a milk program - either white or chocolate milk. According to my kids, 90% of the kids get chocolate milk (and complain wildly because of course they are getting white milk!).

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  2. Anonymous1:26 pm

    When I was in Elementary school (Edmonton, AB), from 1995-2001, here is what we had:

    Hot-dog Fridays, which were (I think) once a month. All students received a hot dog and a juice box (and a small chocolate, maybe). Pizza was kept to special occasions (i.e. once a semester, the older grades would have a 'pizza party' to celebrate the end of semester/provincial exams/etc). I don't recall ever receiving donuts. On students' birthdays, sometimes parents would bring in cookies or small cupcakes, and those cupcakes weren't the monstrous mini-cakes you find in bakeries now. However, those were rare occurrences, and there were really only 2-4 parents per year who did that. We may have had other 'hot lunches' but I can't remember.

    It would be interesting to study the Ottawa Catholic School Board's history of offering those pizza/freezie days, and see if the amount of junk food offered to students (i.e. "in 1999, the OCSB had three 'pizza days' and sold small freezies only during the month of june")has increased.

    I don't know if that would be possible to study, but it would be interesting to see if the quantity of junk food has actually increased (I mean, have schools actually been selling more junk food, or providing more sugary treats, in recent years?) or if the media awareness has.

    I haven't actually looked at the issue in depth, but I'm just curiously musing.

    P.S. love your blog. It's very entertaining and informative, and I share the information with my family.

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  3. Anonymous2:21 pm

    Richmond Public School offers the option to purchase cheese pizza once a week, milk (either choc or white) daily) and subway once per month.

    Katimavik Elementary offers the option to purchase pizza once per week, Mazzola (hot lunch program that isn't so hot) once per week, Funchboxes once per week, Quiznos once per month, and daily milk/juice option (white, chocolate or orange juice).

    These fun/drink programs provide huge $$'s for the councils/schools.

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  4. St. Andrew's Walker9:12 am

    I am the parent of an 8 year old that attends St. Andrew School and two other children that are graduates of St. Andrew’s. I have seen many programs change since we first started at St. Andrews in 2001 and stand proud that my children attend the school. I have no problem with the pizza/milk/ice cream sandwiches. I didn’t buy into the milk/ice cream sandwiches and on the pizza days, my child is only allowed one piece and I send along other nutritional offerings to go with the pizza. I have successfully raised two other graduates from St. Andrew’s school that also partook in the pizza program only and again, they followed the same guidelines as my 8 year old. This was the only pizza my family ate. We very rarely bought pizza in the home due to this program and when we do partake in pizza it is made from scratch. My children are not obese and we support and do many sports and other exercise programs throughout the year. I would like to point out that St. Andrew’s has also changed many policies within the school since 2001 and now offers a summer running program, offers other extra curricular activities such as basketball and volleyball, and is now noted as being a “walking school” whereby children are no longer bused to school. Moderation is a key element and perhaps this is what St. Andrew’s supports. Now teachers that offer candy as bribes…well that is another blog!

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  5. I'd like to comment on this part of your blog;

    "Jumbo freezies are given out 3 times per week for a 3 week period in order to raise money for the grade 6 class trip. Pizza Days every two weeks with a large donut. Bake sales at school where kids are encouraged to buy as much as they like. Between my two daughters, we attend soccer 4 nights a week where parents feel the need to give out Popsicles at the end of each game. That is four Popsicles a week, plus 3 freezies from school a week, pizza and a donut, a bake sale, sometimes all being consumed in one day! This is way too much sugar, in my opinion, and why is it even necessary?"

    Really?? Seems to me this parent needs to grow a back bone and set limits for her own kids. She really let them eat all of that junk in one day?? How is this parent teaching her children to make healthy decisions by caving just because junk food is available, and who gave her kids the money to buy the jumbo freezies and bake goods? Also I would be interested to know what this parent brought to the soccer field as a treat for the team after a long hot hour of running around the field.

    Junk food will always be around. Teaching our kids that it is okay to occassionally have it, if wanted, with a healthy diet is what we should be teaching our kids. The best way to inform our little ones is by example, not by giving in then complaining about it!

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  6. Anonymous2:50 pm

    I'd like to comment on the comments of anonymous who said "Seems to me this parent needs to grow a back bone and set limits for her own kids. She really let them eat all of that junk in one day??". I take it this poster does not have kids? What can be achieved at home in terms of healthy eating gets blown out of the water when outside the home. The pressure to feed junk to children is way beyond the influence of the individual and these kinds of comments frustrate me. Let's see you try to be the parent who pulls the freezie out of the child's hand after the soccer match! Let's see you sprint across the soccer field to get to your kid before the parent distributing the junk does! Parents are swamped by the influence of food companies and if you think it is so simple for parents to limit exposure you are sadly deluded.

    Yoni, great job in exposing the pervasive influence of Big Food!

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  7. Anonymous6:22 pm

    Reply to the last anonymous post; Yup, I am a parent and yes my kids play soccer. Would I run across the field to grab the freezie from my kids hands, nope, but knowing they would be getting something after soccer I would plan it into their day. (and I am one of those despised parents who bring freesies along with oranges/watermellon for half time, which every parent on my kids team agreed to at the parents meeting) My point was that "hot food days are no surprise, bake days are no surprise and something after soccer is no surprise. If you know they will be eating that stuff, and allow it to be consumed in the same day, don't complain about it after the fact. My job as a parent is to help my children become well rounded, healthy adults and that includes spiritually, emotionally and physically. Teaching them to deal with out side influnces and explaining my food choices will hopefully help them to make informed choices when they become adults.

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  8. Anonymous8:13 am

    Reply to reply of the last anonymous post! You and I share the same philosophy and I too am the parent who brings fruit to the soccer match (and the kids love it). My point is that these things are so much part of the North American culture now that it is a constant pressure to balance the diets of children (and adults!). Blaming the individual, including the parent is unfair. Yes, we as parents have a responsibility but so does Big Food that pushes all this junk on us. At the moment the unhealthy choice is the easier choice and this needs to change.

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  9. While "special" days that encourage indulging in junk food are bad, I think perhaps what is worse is the daily quality of food in the cafeteria.

    I'm a college undergraduate now, but when I was in elementary school we had chicken nugget Mondays, "hay stack" Tuesdays, pizza Wednesdays, hamburger Thursdays and Mexican pizza Friday. Hay stacks were Fritos topped with chili, cheese and sour cream. Both of my parents worked demanding jobs, so packing a lunch on a daily basis was not an option.

    In high school, the school raised money with a candy shop that sold candy for cheaper than the vending machines. Most students bought something at break and lunch.

    I wish schools would change their menus and practices to reflect what young people are taught about healthy eating.

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  10. Anonymous1:57 pm

    Hi all:

    I am a Mom of 3 children at Manor Park P.S and I am a student at Algonquin studying to be a nurse here are some of the food tricks I use with my own kids. Try swapping one food item with little nutritional value for one with a better value:

    - Popsicle - I freeze yogurt Tubes. Still a great treat after a hot workout and some protein in there to feed lil muscles.

    -Mom's Pizza lunch -Brown English muffin spayed with a little olive oil with garlic (I use on pasta too :) just a small squirt bottle with 3 split garlic cloves in it and olive oil) tomatoes canned (low sodium) and I let them top it with their fave toppings and fat free cheese.

    -Chocolate milk - believe it or not chocolate milk has the same calorie count, more fiber and more calcium than 2% white. Partly because it is skim milk and also the cocoa adds fiber. So it is a treat I feel ok giving.

    - Tropical Pineapple Muffins with Cream Cheese Icing - 1/2 cup carrots grated, 1/2 cup pineapple, 1 Bran muffin mix (follow directions I use juice instead of water), 1/4 cup ground flax. 1/2 tsp each Cinnamon and all spice. Bake and top with cream Cheese Icing. MMMMmmm...cupcakes but packed with nutrition. Fiber, Omega 3's and vitamin c in a cupcake?

    Most things the "other" kids are eating just have to be planned for and thought out with nutrition in mind. I find my kids know they are eating the same thing but better for them and enjoy it. I think keeping them active in looking for healthy alternatives in their food and the prep helps too. Then they will know how to teach their children too. ** There instead of bake sales make healthy solutions cookbooks and sell them for funds then everyone can offer up healthier treats lol****

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