Free Fruit Friday

I read an article in the Herald Sun today (yesterday’s issue) about the decision to axe funding for the Free Fruit Friday programme in our states Public Primary Schools. I don’t usually blog on Saturday, but this has gotten me riled.
There were, according to the Herald Sun, 300 schools participating in the programme. You can read the article here; I’ll wait for you 🙂

The move seems to have caused a stir amongst teachers, dieticians and the general community.
One teacher was quoted as crediting the programme with a “general improvement in the health and wellbeing of our kids over the years”.

Puh-lease.

Really?

Can one piece of fruit, once per week during the school term really be credited with improvement of the health and well-being of our children? Is she serious?
As far as I’m concerned one piece of fruit per week is the equivalent of a drop in the ocean, and has absolutely zero ability to be responsible for the improved health of our kids.
And this:

“You can teach children things from a text book, but it’s practical, habit-forming things that make the difference.”

Right.
It’s habit-forming things that make the difference. I’m not sure that once a week for fruit-eating can really be considered habit-forming. At the very least, once per day is habit-forming.
Our school recognises that kids would prefer to spend their lunch time playing than eating fruit; as such we have a scheduled 10 minutes fruit time after lunch every single day. Every child is expected to bring a piece of fresh fruit to eat. Not dried fruit; not fruit cups; not fruit in jelly; not rolled fruit, but REAL fresh fruit.
In addition, lunch boxes are closely monitored. There is no soft drink or fruit juice allowed, only water. There are no donuts, chocolates, lollies, chips, or other crap. The kids are expected to take a good healthy lunch. I sent my kids to school with a juice box once, as a treat, they bought them home, unopened, and asked me not to buy them again. Healthy eating habits are an intrinsic part of our kids daily education. The teachers often hand out rewards for the healthiest lunchbox. The kids compete with each other for who has the healthiest lunch. My kids beg me to cut celery and carrot sticks. I kid you not.
I stand behind and support the school policy 100%, as do the majority of the school community. What kind of parent would oppose daily acknowledgement of healthy food choices? 

Healthy eating needs to be ingrained in the culture of the school. It needs to be a daily lesson. It needs to be the rule rather than the exception.
Once piece of fruit on Friday? Pfft.
The Governments $500K could be better spent.

There was another point made, that the Free Fruit Friday programme had

“…broadened their palates.”

What, are they supplying lychees, mangosteen and kumquats? More likely apples, oranges and celery sticks. Maybe the occasional nashi fruit or kiwi. With a government budget of $40 per school per week, it’s not going to be anything exotic. Hell, my weekly fruit shop of apples, oranges, pears, and bananas costs well over $40, and I’m not supplying hundreds of students.

We need to get real.
If we’re getting pissed because our children are suddenly denied one piece of free fruit per week, we must be placing too much value on that one little gesture. For one thing, it’s not enough. For another thing, why are we asking the Government to be responsible for instilling these health lessons in our kids?
Why aren’t we, the parents, taking some responsibility for the health education of our own kids?
Surely it’s up to us to ensure our kids learn how to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Surely parents can lobby for a daily fruit time schedule in all schools, like our school does. The fact that the parents have to supply the piece of fruit is irrelevant.  

How much of our kids’ life lessons are we willing to hand over to someone else?

And while I’m on my high horse…
Is it really the fault of fast food companies that our nation’s childhood obesity problem has increased? Or is it that parents are not saying ‘No’?
How hard is it to not buy the shit food?
If it’s not in the cupboard, they can’t eat it. If you, the parent, don’t provide access to it they.can’t.eat.it.
It’s not rocket science.

“Several studies, including a new one in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development, have found a link between what parents eat and what their children eat as toddlers, tots and even teens. The amount of fruit, vegetables and snack foods children eat is strongly related to the amount of those foods their parents eat.” – link

No! Really? (I need a sarcasm font)

For f#@k sake, we are the advocates for our children. No-one else will care about your Childs’ health more than you do. Own it.
At your schools next Parents and Friends Meeting, stand up and propose fruit time. Propose a school policy of healthy lunch boxes, at the very least send your own kid to school with a healthy lunch box, and don’t rely on the government to take care of your basic parental responsibility.

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6 Responses to Free Fruit Friday

  1. Jennie says:

    Come on now, surely you really don’t want parents to be responsible for their own kids! (yep I need a sarcasm font or emoticon too)!

  2. Irene Hansford says:

    I remember the milk program when I was at primary school and even though the milk was warm and had been sitting out in the sun for a couple of hours, in those days of stay at home mums and most households had 4 or more kids a little money, it was sorely needed. Now things are different, if parents did take responsibility for their children and did say NO to junk, how much more money would be in the family budget and how much improvement in their kids overall health. While we are on this subject, how about sending the kids OUTSIDE to play with nothing more than their imaginations……now that would be a plan. The school where Sam teaches has the same lunchbox policy but I don’t know about the 10min fruit time. Oh by the way, I so love reading your blogs, one day you should do a compilation into a book, there was an author named Erma Blombeck, get one of her books if you can, you would so relate to her and she was very, very funny. She has died but her writings are still relevant for today.

  3. Melinda Terri says:

    Rach, it’s not kids like your who need fruit Friday. Trust me there are kids for whom fruit is a foreign object. Many kids get a price of fruit each day out of the ‘free fruit Friday’ stash. Because they need it. Some kids need to be taught how to eat fruit and deal with lumps and pips. It may be pathetic but for some kids this simple initiative would vastly improve their diet.
    Our school has fruit time. Is it fair to the poor kid who doesn’t have any fruit to sit there empty handed? It’s easier to educate the kids than the parents.
    I think it’s a great pity the initiative has ended and it will disadvantage the most needy. Not because their poor, but because the parents are uneducated morons and we need to break the cycle.

    • If 1 piece of fruit per week is vastly improving their diet then we have bigger problems. I absolutely do not believe that there are parents who are so uneducated that they do not know their kids need fruit. We are not living in the 1800’s. More likely that they’re choosing to spend their money on other things.
      Flinging a piece of fruit at a kid once a week is a token gesture and doing absolutely nothing for their overall longterm health. If their parents are really not buying fruit, they’re probably not eating good healthy food at home either, and this one piece of weekly fruit is not going to solve the problem.
      Throwing a stone at a sherman tank, is what it is.
      If what you are saying is true, we need to think of serious habit forming alternatives.

      • Melinda Terri says:

        I agree Rach. But the fact remains many children do not bring fruit from home EVER. There are so many neglected children it beggars belief. I think you must be shielded from many of some of life’s miseries at your school.

      • We might be shielded, more than likely.
        That doesnt mean I am not able to recognise that there is a need. A need that one piece of fruit a week does not change.

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