Students in Durham, Ontario are being told they can’t bring in common kid snacks by teachers
Packing school lunches is the worst. Whether you’re squeezing it in between breakfast and before teeth brushing or one of those rare creatures that gets them done the night before, they’re a complete pain in the ass. You’ve got to label the snack separate from the lunch, make sure every one has their crusts cut the way they like them, and find the ice packs that always end up scattered all over the house.
But for parents in Durham, Ontario packing school lunches is even worse. Thanks to the way teachers are interpreting the school district’s healthy eating initiative, many students are being told they can’t eat certain parts of their lunch because they’re ‘unhealthy.’
According to The Star, local parents claim common foods discouraged in lunches include: “Goldfish crackers, Bear Paws cookies, granola bars, string cheese, Jello, juice boxes, pudding cups, gummy fruit snacks, raisins, Animal Crackers, chocolate milk and Sun Chips.” So basically all of the things you can send your child to school with knowing they’ll actually eat, they can’t have in their lunchbox. These restrictions are so bogus. What’s wrong with string cheese? Don’t kids need calcium? And while some granola bars are essentially candy bars that doesn’t mean all of them are bad. And what’s with the hating on raisins? It’s a fancy word for old grapes!
For what it’s worth, Durham District School Board Superintendent Luigia Ayotte issued a statement claiming that there is no official banned list of foods for the school district.“We understand there may have been some issues with regard to certain foods students bring for snacks and lunches, but food preferences and choice remain with students and parents unless they pose an adverse allergic danger to other students,” she said.
But parents say teachers must have missed that memo because they’re looking at lunches and calling out certain foods as not healthy. In some cases the kids get a lecture on making better choices. Other times they’re not allowed to eat the “unhealthy” food at all. And teachers have vastly different ideas of what a healthy lunch looks like. Mom Avani Chaudhary said her second grader was told Goldfish crackers and chocolate chip granola bars were not allowed but son brought those same snacks to pre-K without an issue.
One parent said her child was sent home with her pizza untouched because the school wouldn’t let her eat pizza outside of their designated pizza days. How is a child eating nothing at lunch that day better than eating a slice of pizza?
Childhood obesity is a real issue. But teachers policing student lunches could do more harm then good. By telling our kids that certain foods are “bad” or “off limits” we run the risk of damaging their relationship with food and their ability to have self-control when faced with treats like a birthday cake or plate of holiday cookies.
In a 2015 study published in the journal of Pediatric Obesity, Dr. Brandi Rollins of Penn State University and her colleagues concluded that moderation and parents setting a good example with their own diet are the key to helping kids form a healthy relationship with food. In other words, if mom wants her kid to have a bag of chips with lunch, that should be her decision. The teachers don’t know what that child had for breakfast or what the family is planning for dinner.
Removing food from the hands of a student is also not taking into consideration financial restrictions families may have. Snack foods aren’t just convenient, they’re affordable, which is why many families purchase them. A child shouldn’t be embarrassed in front of his peers or made to go hungry because his parents could only afford a bulk box of Goldfish crackers for snack that week.
We know that teachers only want what’s best for their students. But policing the contents of their lunchboxes isn’t it.