An increasing number of schools are introducing “nude food” policies, claiming they are an attempt to improve the health of Australian children.
Now the nude food movement has hit two of the three schools my children attend. Here’s how they work.
Schools are introducing “nude food” policies in various forms to increase children’s consumption of unprocessed foods such as fruit and veg. They are doing this by either adding a third food break to the school day or having a “nude food day” once a week.
Parent advocacy group, Parents’ Voice is calling on Australian supermarkets and schools to support efforts to improve children’s lunchboxes, claiming they are growing in popularity with families.
They admit nude food policies are about improving the environment (reducing the amount of rubbish) as well as addressing health issues. But then it gets even more complicated.
What exactly is a nude food?
One school my children attend claims nude food is any food that isn’t wrapped. Basically, you can buy a Bento-style lunchbox and put biscuits, carrot sticks, a sandwich in the different sections and as long as there are no wrappers involved, that’s nude food. Bananas must be peeled, and oranges, otherwise the skin is rubbish.
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Another school my children attends says nude food is fruits and vegetables only and the skin is “nature’s wrapper” which means it’s allowed.
So you can see why I’m confused.
But I’m not quite sure we’re getting the full story, either.
I have a funny feeling that the nude food movement is really about rubbish, to reduce maintenance costs and improve the look of the school. Which makes me wonder how they’ll punish children from now on, with detention not being used as much as it was when I was in school.
I always got “scab duty” whereby not bringing in my homework or hitting my desk with my ruler to make a loud sound saw me walking around the playground at recess and lunch picking up rubbish.
My suspicion is that nude food policies in schools are just another way to test (torture) parents and I’m offended by the assumption we don’t feed our children healthy foods at home. My kids eat plenty of fruits and vegetables but just not at school.
Have you seen what happens to a slice of watermelon on a 40-plus-degree-day? It’s not pretty.
So usually I pack my kids foods that will last the day even in heat and when they get home they'll have toasted sandwiches and some fruit that is in season.
They say it's a health issue, that Australian children are the victims of an obesity crisis and so schools are stepping in to improve the diets of all primary-aged children. That's all well and good.
But a parent's job is hard enough each morning without adding a "nude food" requirement to our To Do List.
It's not like the children's health is under immediate threat as it can be when food bans are implemented due to food allergies.
Schools already teach children about health and wellness during sports class and to me, that's enough.
CEO of Nutrition Australia Victoria Division, Lucinda Hancock, agrees that nude food days are part of the mix of tools that schools can use to encourage healthier food in lunch boxes.
“Only five per cent of Australian children eat enough fruit and vegetables each day; yet nearly 40 per cent of the energy they consume comes from ‘junk foods’ like – cakes, biscuits, lollies, fried foods and sugary drinks," she says.
“Packing a ‘nude’ food lunchbox is a great way to include more nutritious, minimally-processed foods that will fuel your child’s mind and body.”
But isn't a more effective way of improving the health of children getting rid of the soft drinks in schools, not to mention lollies handed out in class, birthday cakes and cupcakes and all the junk sold at the school canteen?
I've lost count of the number of fundraising "sausage sizzles" my kids have contributed a gold coin towards, crappy sausages on white bread with tomato sauce.
Children don't have to eat healthily all the time, just most of the time, and in trying to address food issues in our children it would be nice if the parents were asked for ideas instead of policies being decided by bureaucrats. It seems they're intent on devising the most annoying policies possible and not fessing up to the real reason behind them.