“I have an ice cream and you can’t have one” Eddie Murphy chanted in a singsong voice. Decked out in a red leather suit in 1987.
Oh, we laughed at the ice cream skit, how manic the kids get when they hear the ice cream truck coming, telling everyone on the block “ice cream man is coming, ice cream man is coming!” — and how they lorded it over the other kids when they got their ice cream.
Do you remember the next line in Eddie’s song? “I have an ice cream, and you can’t have one, coz you’re on welfare.” Yes.
And we laughed — little kids marching out someone else’s parents’ distress and gloating over junk food. Would we laugh now? Probably not.
Because it seems like now, the adults are saying it, and it’s serious. “Is junk food child abuse?”
Google called up over a million articles when I asked, and lots of people are saying yes. And they’re not on crazy hippie web sites; they’re in the UK’s Daily Mail, Huffington Post, TED talks….
I have scowled to myself at the playground, haven’t you? But, our judgement gets in the way of solutions.
Poor folks need knowledge, in their language, to help them make good choices. They need access, in urban centers AND in sad rural wandering roads, to grocery stores. Here in Pittsburgh, folks take several buses to get to an affordable grocery store. Growing up in rural Maine, it was a long haul to one. Folks need the means by which to purchase foods, or foods need to be affordably priced or grown at home — or all three. I’ve written before on how folks also need time to cook at home.
So that trigger response of “what are they feeding these/those kids?” is a sign. A sign that compassion and social action are called for. What to do? Go to a town meeting about public transit and make sure poor neighborhoods have access to grocery stores, vote in local elections about zoning laws, support your local WIC program (Women, Infants, Children – a nutrition program started by president Carter targeting at-risk kids), donate to a food bank. Or start by exercising your compassion — on the playground. In the grocery checkout behind someone with food stamps. Or when you see kids of different sizes.
For more talk on food and kids, join in on Funnermother on Facebook. We can make a change.