Think today's youth is apathetic? That kids just don't care? Think again. A spate of news stories has cropped up lately highlighting kids' efforts to take on unhealthy food that grown ups are trying to spoon feed them—including school lunches and even McDonald's.
The trend first came to our attention last year when a 9-year-old girl in Scottland, Martha Payne, was banned from bringing a camera to school after her blog, Never Seconds, documenting the poor nature of her school lunches, went viral. The media frenzy that followed, including praise from Jamie Oliver, known for his activism for healthy school meals, eventually convinced the school council to reverse its ban.
But a comment on her blog, chiding her that she should be grateful to have food when some children have none, spurred Martha to start a campaing for donations to Mary's Meals, a charity that provides school meals to students in some of the world's poorest countries. She has since well exceeded her fundraising goals and her blog was named Food Blog of the Year by The Observer.
Then, two more activitist kids came onto our radar.
Zachary Maxwell is an 11-year-old fourth grader who secretly filmed his lunches at a large New York City public school and compared them with the descriptions provided to parents to create Yuck: A 4th Graders Short Documentary About School Lunch.
The film shows the disparities between the appetizing and healthy-sounding descriptions of school lunch published by the school and the actual lunches served to the kids. And adults are sitting up to take notice. The documentary has already won several film festival awards and has been invited to screen at several others; and the New York Education Department recently ruled that children will face suspension for taking unauthorized videos at school—although officials claim the new policy has nothing to do with Zachary and his film.
And then, another bright and well spoken young girl gave the CEO of McDonald's a scolding he won't likely soon forget at a recent shareholder's meeting for "tricking" kids into eating unhealthy food.
Hannah Robertson (whose mother is a nutritional activist) took the opportunity to make her comments during an open question and answer session. "There are things in life that aren't fair—like when your pet dies," Hannah told McDonald's CEO Don Thompson. "I don't think it's fair when big companies try to trick kids into eating food. It isn't fair that so many kids my age are getting sick," she said.
"Mr. Thompson, don't you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and healthy life?"
"We don't sell junk food," he said.
I don't think even the 9-year-olds are buying that one.
Photo courtesy TodayIAteARainbow.com