Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Parental "No" Files: Public Libraries Push Junk Food on Preschoolers Now?

The next in the never ending line of insane examples of entirely unnecessary junk food provision to children comes from a fellow health blogger's local library in Ketchum, Idaho.

It's called The Children's Library and their in-library events are clearly geared at pre-school and elementary school aged kids.

Looking at their December schedule, of the 24 days they're open, 7 of them involve giving kids food. Junky food. Pancakes, holiday cookies, 2 days of gingerbread houses, hot chocolate, popcorn and drinks, and of course, "hot chocolate and donuts all day" - because what screams out reading more than donuts?


Since when was food even allowed in libraries, and more importantly, why would libraries feel the need to ply children with junk food in the first place? Aren't libraries places to go to cultivate a love of reading? Of learning? Aren't there plenty of other opportunities to cultivate a child's love of donuts?

So parents in Idaho (and perhaps elsewhere too), add children's libraries to your list of places where you're going to need to say, "No" at when your child is offered junk food that you yourself hadn't planned on giving them.

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  1. Librarian here (been stalking you via RSS for a little while, love what you've done with the place ^__^) --

    Food isn't really an issue in most libraries now, at least as far as librarians caring about it being in the building (same for cell phones & such). But we've had the same problem with "junk" food where I work (that is, having cookies/candy/chips/pizza for every event), and it seems like a pretty wide-spread thing in public libraries with children's programming, local author hours, etc.

    I think it's just a matter of what's "easy" -- it is assumed that the vast majority of kids/teens like that kind of thing, plus it is cheap. We recently managed to get admin to bring fresh fruit & whole grains to staff meetings here at the library where I work instead of just donuts and fake juice, though, so there IS hope.

  2. The Windsor Public Library started a Teen Zone about a year ago, and unfortunately it's the same thing here. The website link below doesn't mention the type of food that is served, but I know it is pizza.

    I think part of the problem is a belief that it's impossible to attract teenagers to libraries without plying them with pizza. I'm far from convinced that the belief is warranted, though it does take creativity and effort to come up with suitable alternatives.

    And that is the other problem - public buildings have fewer cooking facilities than ever before, and staff are often too stretched to put in the time to prepare and serve healthful food. I suspect fear of bringing down the wrath of the food inspectorate is another barrier.

    But it is possible to serve food options that are delicious and nutritious and which are not prepared onsite. They don't have to be prohibitively priced either. It's usually a matter of being a little more creative in the planning of these events.

  3. I have three suggestions: Seedless grapes, Little cheese cubes, frilly toothpicks (for events where the people are older than three). That's what I took to grade school parties. Kids love to eat off interesting toothpicks.

    For Halloween parties: kids love prunes. Stick two almond slices in a pitted prune and and dot two little eyes from a frosting paste tube. You have a fly. Suspend it (and a dozen buddies) over a dark bagel using hard, dry whole wheat spaghetti. You have a lovely centerpiece of "flies on poop." Boys, especially, like to eat this.