Reposted 5/17, because I somehow posted it at a prior date. Someday I'll figure this all out.
Time, culture, and access are the three big barriers to providing healthy snacks for our kids. I can't tell you how many times I've heard the conversation at the vending machines: you can get cheez-its or pretzels, but not cookies or chips. Of course, they all have identical ingredients, but somehow the cheez its and pretzels FEEL healthier, because, hmmm no sugar? (Not true. Maybe sounds like they have no sugar.)
My student was given a dollar by her dad for a vending machine snack after her early morning lesson this week; he probably expected her to get something marginally acceptable for breakfast--a bag of cereal, or a granola bar, or even Sun Chips. At least they're not fried.
She got skittles. We both jumped down her throat. Dad confiscated them, but I'm not so sure he would have if I hadn't been there.
Concession stands are not much better. Convinced by the culture that they have to feature only the worst food--ring pops and microwave french fries--they reinforce ideas either that we can fool ourselves into believing that processed foods are healthy if they include "reel froot juice" or that it doesn't matter as long as we go home to a healthy dinner (usually also highly processed).
The best thing to do, of course, is to carry a bag of apples, or peanut butter sandwiches, or raisins, or even homemade cookies with you to the rink or on errands. And I wish more parents would just do this. Why do we let strangers choose what food our kids will eat?
There is light at the end of the tunnel, however. My rink changed, and yours can too. After years, nay, decades of variously awful concession stands, or NO concession stand, we have a new vendor, Michelle, of Healthy Concessions, Inc.
And she's fantastic.
First, she's a skating mom, so she really gets the need to have healthy food at concession. The last concessionaire, who was actually okay-- he had different types of tea, and was open a lot-- but would say he "couldn't" sell things like yogurt and fresh baked goods, and hamburgers made of, um, hamburger (instead of those premade microwave things), because "no one will buy them."
Apparently, not so much.
Michelle serves real fruit smoothies--just fruit and milk,--and Torani sodas. She bakes shortbread and brownies from real ingredients. Fresh salads, fresh paninis, cafe style coffees made from fair trade, organic, Casteel Coffee, which furthermore is a local company.
She's got the usual concession stuff too-- those nasty ring pops that kids love, hot dogs, pop corn and soft drinks, ice cream treats. But she balances them with oranges, bananas and lots of good stuff.
And she's thriving. I hear kids being talked out of ice cream treats in favor of the smoothies, and skipping the microwaved cheese sticks in favor of a ham-and-cheese panini. She Has Grown Up Food. I've been able to start eating dinner on Wednesday nights again (when I teach from 3 to 9 with only a half-hour break), because she lets me put in an order ahead of time for her marvelous "special salad" (mixed greens with homemade glazed pecans, tomatoes, and dried cranberries), so it's ready when I get off the ice, without my waiting in line.
Michelle, stay forever! If you want to know about getting a Healthy Concessions stand at your rink, or would like her to cater an event, call her at 847-226-7103. Let's keep this lady in business!