I have had a deep secret for a number of years, something that has bothered greatly me so it is time to confess. Many more times than I care to admit, I have worked in concession stands, selling food that I consider to be an abomination and that I KNOW is bad for you! I am guilty of preparing and selling ooey, gooey brownies, chips and sodas at trap meets. I have sold handfuls of candy at swim meets to innocent young children, who gazed up at me shyly and trustingly as they handed over their money. I have been a party to the cans of chemicals and preservatives called cheese that is heated and poured over hot Cheetos or chili cheese dogs at basketball games. I have baked and sold DOZENS of awful, store-bought chocolate chip cookies, all in the name of raising MONEY to support my kids' activities! I have watched, horrified, as kids buy and eat huge amounts of JUNK that constitutes their dinner that night or lunch that day. And I have watched many of those kids and adults waddle away. I might as well hand out business cards for locals dentists and doctors as I hand over the food, because the people who frequent concession stands are going to need them. In case you are wondering, my husband the cardiologist has worked those same concession stands along with me.
It is quite a dilemma. We help raise thousands of needed dollars to support trap shooting, soccer, swimming and band without which, these activities would be too expensive for many children to participate. So ultimately, we are doing a good thing. But as I hand over the third hamburger and chips that day to an overweight kid I know, I feel bad. It wouldn't be so bad if I thought that it was just an occasional thing, that kid having some chips and a soda. But by the size of his waist, I know it is not.
I console myself at swim meets because the parents of swimmers seem to be a bit better educated about nutrition. You can actually find fruit, carrot sticks and yogurt parfaits at some meets. Still the majority of food sold at concession stands is the stuff of nightmares - full of fat, salt, empty calories and strange chemical preservatives I can't begin to pronounce. Let me assure you that real cheese does not come out of an industrial sized can and have an unnatural orange glow.
So there you have it. The sad truth is that I feel I wage a lonely battle against the junk we serve our kids and ourselves. Most people would look at me like I'd lost my mind if I suggested we change the concession stand menu even a bit. Worse, hardly anyone would buy healthier options, except at swim meets. You probably got a chuckle or two reading this today but I hope I won't see you at my concession stand anytime soon.
These are some of the kids I sell junk to.