Childhood obesity is a huge obstacle facing kids these days. Rates of overweight and underactive kids are skyrocketing, and many things are to blame. From increasingly sedentary lifestyles to sugar laden, highly processed foods that are all too convenient, it’s easy to see how kids are packing on the pounds. More exercise and forming healthy eating habits early on can help to curb obesity but it’s hard to monitor what a child’s eating when they’re at school and exposed to unhealthy meals or vending machines.
That is precisely why many schools have stepped up their efforts to ensure that kids have much better access to healthier snacks and meals. Many have banned unhealthy snacks altogether in vending machines and are emphasizing fresher more natural options, such as fruits and vegetables, while cutting out highly processed, fatty, and sugary foods.
In Canada some schools have gone as far as to regulate what foods are allowed in packed lunches as well. However, some places may have gone a little too far in their efforts to curb unhealthy eating habits and that has led to complaints from parents. Several reports have noted that schools are strictly enforcing their eating codes and fining parents who fail to include the listed healthy snacks. In effect, if a child goes to school with cookies, candy, soda, or a banned item, school officials can take it away and throw it in the trash. As a replacement, the child is given a healthy snack and the school bills the parents for it.
Such was the case in Durham, Ontario Canada where a healthy eating program had been enacted in the public schools. One four year old boy had a slice of homemade banana bread taken away from him by his teacher who threw it in the trash. Being so young, the boy didn’t really understand what was happening and so he became confused and upset when the snack his mother had packed for him was confiscated.
His mother, Elaine Daoust, was also upset by the incident and was told by the school that because the banana bread contained chocolate chips it violated their healthy snack policy. The school did not bother to replace what they took away from her son and so all he had to eat that day was a small bag of grapes she had also packed for him. Furthermore, she had packed the same homemade banana bread before for him and had no issues, so why was it suddenly prohibited. It’s not like she packed him a chocolate candy bar, there were just a couple of chocolate chips and it was a small slice of bread to begin with!
According to Elaine, her son had been given a chart about healthy eating habit and a note explaining the decision from his teacher. According to a local news report on the issue, a group of about 30 other parents in the same school district claim that their children have also had food items confiscated from them. Some of the prohibited items mentioned include granola bars, goldfish crackers, string cheese, and chocolate milk. In the majority of these instances the food in question is not inherently unhealthy or clearly banned.
In the end, the schools have seemingly been given wide discretion. What they regard as healthy or unhealthy can change day to day and depends on the teacher. Perhaps more important is the fact that they are not taking into consideration the parent’s choices for their children. After all, lots of kids are picky eaters, some have allergies, others have medical conditions which severely restrict what they’re able to eat, and a parent knows and accommodates these factors. We all want out kids to be healthy, but that shouldn’t mean taking food from a child.
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