Philly Parents Patrol Corner Stores to Stop Students From Eating Junk Food

Filed under: In The News, Nutrition: Big Kids, Nutrition: Tweens, Nutrition: Teens, Nutrition: Health

Junk food patrol picture

Hey, kids! Be careful what you eat in Philly! Credit: Getty Images

The streets of north Philadelphia are no longer safe for kids sipping sugary soft drinks and shoveling bags of potato chips and chocolate bars into their mouths, thanks to a new special victims unit on patrol for bad munchies.

With all the drama of reality TV, this team is stationed just outside food shops in close proximity to schools, ready to pounce on kids purchasing calorie-laden snacks. They are parents who consider themselves foot soldiers in the national battle over the diets of children, The New York Times reports.

Donning bright-colored safety vests and armed with walkie-talkies, this is hardly an undercover operation.

Just ask first grader Tatyana Gray, who recently was busted after stopping at the Oxford Food Shop en route to elementary school for her daily dose of chips and a sweet drink.

With 20 percent of the nation's children suffering from obesity, the United States Department of Agriculture has proposed new standards for federally subsidized school meals that call for more balanced meals and, for the first time, a limit on calories, according to The Times.

That's pushing school leaders and parents with a new fervor to try to clamp down on chips, sugar and all the unhealthy eating habits of today's youth, the newspaper reports.

In Philadelphia, the obesity rate is the nation's highest, according to The Times, prompting parents to patrol the food shops near the William D. Kelley School.

Amelia Brown, principal of the kindergarten through eighth grade school, tells the newspaper the parental patrols were prompted by the students' deplorable diets, which, she says, are causing headaches and stomachaches and undermining academic achievement.

The school has expelled soda and sweet snacks, and, instead of high-calorie fruit juices, the school nurse, Wendy Fine, tells The Times: "I push water."

To match the efforts inside the school, Brown called on the owners of nearby corner stores to stop selling to students in the morning. Frustrated with the lack of compliance, she tells The Times she called on parents to help.

"It's a good thing, what they're trying to do, but I can't control who comes in," Gladys Tejada, who owns the Oxford Food Shop, tells The Times.

Nor can she control what they buy.

"They like it sweet," she tells the newspaper. "They like it cheap."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.