What are we to do about hot dog concessions in youth league parks?

This is my family garden in upstate N.Y. These are my mother’s hands holding the veggies of her labor. For a time, we had hogs and chickens in the backyard too. The garden is a legacy of my Granddaddy’s heart for providing for the family; it’s been nourishing my family for as long as I’ve been alive. As a child, pulling weeds was my least favorite thing in the world. Whereas I realize farm to table living isn’t feasible for most folks; I’m grateful for the opportunity to have experienced such. It has definitely enriched my life beyond measure.

It’s been quite an effort to plan, plot and maintain, for mom and my Uncle Billy, who carry on Grandaddy’s legacy, but they do it for as many months as possible. We ate clean, whole foods without being told it was the thing to do. Yes, I ate hamburgers and some amazing homemade sausages. We knew the food source, and the animals were well cared for. Still, nobody complained about too many colorful veggies on the plate. It’s kind of ironic that Granddaddy was in disbelief when I became a vegetarian.

I post this in light of the WHO study published this week regarding the definitive link to certain cancers and processed and red meats. Of the many lessons gained through youth sports, nutrition is often missed in the conversation. So what are we to do about the hot dog concessions at the youth sports parks? Leagues depend on concession money to subsidized costs. A dog and a beverage has been a rite of passage for many youngsters.

Turning the concession stand on its head isn’t a viable alternative. Neither is risking the health of our children. It’s possible to find a happy medium if team moms create a partnership with coaches and league officials. Moms are often the bad cop when it comes to nutrition. Dads and coaches need to be a bigger part of the conversation when it comes to feeding young athletes before, during, and after the activity. Just as our garden provided sustenance for the family, the collective actions of moms and dads can do the same for youth sports.

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