Food as Disruptive Technology - Granite Grok

Food as Disruptive Technology

Here is my column from the Gilford Steamer concerning the new food policies of the Gilford School District (a link to the Citizen  article, my column is here [the paper is free, online is paid], couldn’t find it on the Steamer and the Daily Sun is not online):

 

Analytically Speaking

Disruptive Technology: A new technological innovation, product, or service that eventually overturns the existing dominant technology or product in the market.

The Gilford School Board recently announced updated nutritional and behavior policies seeking to have more healthy students. Dr. DeMinico, Gilford District Superintendent, had a Commentary (Steamer, 9/14) that outlined a number of changes in the nutritional, physical activities, and behavioral policies.

Let me loosely translate – the non-official message is two fold – they think our kids are fat and they now see, as part of their educational mission, that they are to take a leading role in reducing such fat in the aforementioned kids. When I read it, I immediately thought of the character on the Seinfeld show (“no soup for you!”).

How? Some outright NOs: caffeine, sports drinks, only 100% juice, low fat milk, or water, less fatty meats (does that mean that “mystery meat” is a thing of the past?), and smaller portions. More “healthy” foods such as veggies and fruits to be served. Seconds? Get real. Higher prices too.

The Citizen reported that High School Principal Ken Wiswell added the reason for so few food choices is because of the fact the new policies follow federal guidelines. “In the long run, it will be good for us all”. So is cod liver oil, but I don’t see any runs on that happening any time soon either.

 

Now, I will be the last person to cast stones at the “chubby” category – looking at my Body Mass Index (used to determine if weight / height ratios are in balance), I’m over the norm, just like many pro basketball, baseball, and football players (to be honest, much of my mass, however, is no longer built of muscle).

However, it’s not that I eat too much. Rather, like many of us, I am way under exercised. And that, my friends, is the problem. For kids, in this day of GameBoy, Nintendo, X box, email, text messaging, MySpace.com, Internet, and other sedentary activities, it isn’t always that they are eating too much – it is that they are eating too much for the exercise that they are not doing.

I applaud the willingness of the School to be part of the solution by adding new sports programs in the last few years like football and lacrosse that appeal to those kids that have not shown interest in Gilford’s traditional sports. But there is something that is nagging me.

The above nutritional altruism aside, I did note that some of the changes are strictly financially driven. NOT following the federal guidelines turns the money spigots off – anathema to public services. Taken somewhat cravenly, does this mean that our kids get less to eat so that other programs can be funded?

And my sense is that the School is taking more of an ownership position in student lives than in the past – “we have to get involved in our students’ lives so that we can keep them from hurting themselves in any area possible, regardless if it is during school hours or on school grounds”. Regulating food consumption, dealing with bad or risky behavior at non-school activities, places, or times?

At what point was it decided that the School’s “in loco parentis” role could be expanded into new areas that they have traditionally not been, such as what foods that can be send for celebrations, that behaviors outside of school time and grounds would be addressed by school officials (re: Canterbury’s discussions a while ago about how to punish kids misbehaving while waiting for the bus?) Kids at private gatherings being punished for bad behaviors?

Isn’t that straying into grounds that should be parental domain only? Isn’t this more creeping Nanny State-ism?

Oh yeah, almost forgot – Disruptive Technology? This seemingly brand new technology that can pile-drive these new food regulations? Ya gotta hand it to those dang kids – sometimes they’re pretty clever. Don’t they understand that they shouldn’t be doing an end around the policy that our officials spent all that time coming up with for their own good? The DT – a sandwich brought from home.

Imagine that, wanting foods that they like and not those they don’t. Student Russ Hunter was quoted “There are not a lot of things to choose from and we are spending more money”. Gee, this is starting to sound like a consumer revolt – less choice at higher cost generally means that customers no longer patronize your services. Result: less revenues. Yes indeed – he continued to relate that other students were starting to bring in their lunches so they could eat what they wanted at a cheaper price.

What are the stats on food revenues?

 

Cross Posted at GilfordGrok