The Frozen Pop Problem

I had a phone call from a Texas mom last week. She was concerned about the interaction she had with her child’s camp director at the end of the summer and wanted my professional opinion on it. Her seven year old had attended a day camp for six weeks. He adored this camp and so did she. She had no complaints…except one. Every single day after camp the kid was given a bright red, green, yellow or purple frozen pop as a snack. She knew those frozen pops had high fructose corn syrup, artificial dyes and preservatives.

At the end of the six weeks, she approached the director. The mom raved about the camp, the counselors and the activities and ensured the director she would recommend the camp to all her friends. She then mentioned she had one suggestion for next summer. The conversation went like this…

Mom: (ever so sweetly) “Perhaps you could offer frozen pops as a special treat next year…like on Tuesday and Thursdays and replace other days with healthier snacks for the kids.”
Director: (stunned… with an immediate response) “Oh nooooooooo way. Do you know what moms say is the highlight of summer camp on our evaluations? Those frozen pops. The kids are hot and sweaty at the end of they day and they need those frozen pops. They love them!”

The mom went on to explain her concern with the ingredients and the director sat their stoic, completely unaffected by her concern. In the end, the director told the mom she’d take her concerns into consideration and get back to her. She never did. Feeling defeated, the mother called me. I suggested the following:
  • Write a letter to the director and her supervisors and anyone else you can find in the organization with your concerns about the pops.
  • Be absolutely lovely in that letter, but provide solid references and research explaining the concern with the ingredients. (I gave mom some support references)
  • Offer many cold snack ideas
  • Hold on tight. See what they say.
This Texas mother is not alone. I hear similar complaints all the time. You ready for these? Teachers are handing out cookies and fast food coupons to students for A’s on math exams. Vending machines are chock full of candy and chips at schools and gymnastic gymnasiums. Parents are bringing candy and juice to the soccer or baseball fields for four year kids after games. Let’s be honest parents. Most four year old kids don’t even need a snack after games. How much are they exerting themselves? And what message are we sending here parents?
“Go play soccer four year old kid. Get some exercise. It’s really good for your body to grow up to be big and strong. Now…here is some candy and juice for being physically active.”
What? I don’t remember learning that candy and juice were optimal foods post workout in my sports nutrition classes. What a mess.
We have a long way to go to change the way food is viewed and used in our country. We need to join together, stay strong, talk and write to solve the problem…one frozen pop at a time.

About Melanie Silverman

Melanie is a pediatric registered dietitian nutritionist (RD) and a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) working primarily in pediatric nutrition for well over 15 years. She spent seven years as a clinical dietitian at The University of Chicago Medical Center in the neonatal intensive care unit, pediatric intensive care unit, adult and pediatric burn units, and high risk pediatric follow-up clinic. She also served as an adjunct faculty member at Loyola University Chicago. Melanie has presented at state and national meetings for the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN), March of Dimes, Prader-Willi California Foundation, Texas Prader-Willi Association, Oklahoma Prader Willi Syndrome Association, Foundation for Prader-Willi Research (FPWR) in the United States and Canada and the Prader-Willi Syndrome USA (PWSA). She worked hard for her Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and Spanish from Indiana University and a Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center. A member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, California Dietetic Association, Pediatric Nutrition Practice Group, Women’s Health Group, Nutrition Entrepreneurs and an active member of the International Lactation Consultant Association.