I have been interested in the recent news article about a mother who had packed Oreo cookies in her child’s lunchbox. It seems that although she had also packed other lunch items, the school her child attended deemed the lunch “unhealthy” and not only did not allow her to eat the cookies, they sent her mother a note encouraging her to “pack a nutritious lunch”.
WHAT? Are schools and daycare centers now deciding what a parent may put in a child’s lunchbox? I understand the need for nutritious lunches for our children. I talk about this everyday in my practice. But are there not bigger issues facing our schools than policing every child’s lunch. This mother did not “just” pack Oreos, her child had a sandwich and string cheese as well. Her mother stated that, “she was out of fruits and vegetables that day”, so added some cookies.
Schools are in the throes of changing menus in an effort to help our children make good choices at lunch. But, even without serving fried foods or soft drinks, they do still offer dessert during school lunch. They have ice cream, frozen yogurt, pies, cookies....and unfortunately many children probably eat more than one.
I once headed a committee at our sons’ school to change the school cafeteria’s policy to have a “soda fountain”. I realized that even if I talked to my children about nutrition and health, and did not have soft drinks in our home , if they were offered a choice between soft drinks and milk I knew that they would sometimes choose a soft drink (with free refills I might add).
After about a year of discussions and some very unhappy parents and students our school did stop serving soft drinks. As I pointed out even then, this was for children who were buying school lunch and drinks....we were not telling parents what they could and could not send or have in their own homes.
At the minimum I think this poor 4 year old should not have been put in the middle of this discussion. Would it not have been more appropriate to send the mother a note asking her not to send cookies for lunch again? Was there a notice of acceptable lunch items that had been posted at the beginning of school? Is there a “zero tolerance” for cookies rule?
I guess schools will be sending sandwiches home that have white bread or bologna, or who knows what else. While I am a huge advocate for healthy eating habits and making changes in all of our homes...let’s not take it out on a 4 year old.