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Field trip kids stop at ... Hooters?

Sarah Walker Caron is an award winning journalist, freelance writer and editor. She lives a happy life in Maine with her two children, where they love to hike, visit the beaches and have lots of silly fun. Check out her food blog at Sara...

Appropriateness for kids’ school trips

Eighth graders on a field trip recently made an unusual stop when a chaperon took a group of them to Hooters for lunch. Was this decision acceptable or inappropriate?

Appropriateness for kids’ school trips

When Berwick Middle School students from Pennsylvania went on a class field trip to the National Aquarium recently, it included an unusual stop: Lunch at Hooters. Yes, that Hooters. The one with the skimpy uniforms and well-endowed waitresses.

About 15 or 20 of the 100 students on the trip ate at the restaurant with chaperone, while other students ate elsewhere. According to the school, the students were split up and sent to different restaurants because the group was just too large for one restaurant.

And oddly enough, the superintendent said he didn't receive complaints.

Just good fun?

Is Hooters just another restaurant, albeit one with tinier uniforms? Maybe. The menu isn't all that different from other chain restaurants like Applebee's or Chili's, featuring burgers, wings and similar foods.

But where Hooters gets into hot water is with its selection of employees. Last year, the chain made headlines when a 132-pound waitress was told to lose weight or lose her job. Cassandra Smith, then 20, was provided a gym membership and 30 days to slim down. And at the time, the company said that the practice was both legal and fair because they have an image to uphold.

Inappropriate for kids

The question is, is that image appropriate for middle schoolers on a class trip? And ultimately, it's a murky thing. The waitresses might wear skimpy outfits, but they are covered. They might be hired more for their physical appearance than for their waitressing skills, but they are still doing nothing more than taking orders and serving food. So, maybe the lack of complaints is because taking students to Hooters -- while not the most prudent choice -- isn't really a big deal.

Still, some parents say that the highly sexualized nature of the restaurant makes it the wrong choice for hormonal kids.

"I think after this food stop made headlines, these same parents and the school district might now know it was not up to them to expose these teenagers to scantily clad, busty girls during school time when they're supposed to be learning something other than how not to dress in public," says Suzette Valle of Mamarazzi Knows Best.

But, for that matter, there are other ways a restaurant can be inappropriate too. Look at the Heart Attack Grill in Arizona, known for its apologetically bad-for-you foods -- their slogan is "Taste Worth Dying For." (In fact, their 600 lb. Heart Attack Grill spokesmodel died at age 29.)

If we are trying to improve the healthiness of school lunches, why shouldn't that extend to field trips?

>> What do you think? Is Hooters an inappropriate choice for a field trip lunch, or no big deal?

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