With the start of school now here, I've been reading a lot of articles and comments and postings about school lunches. One article asked the question, "How Far Does Your School Take Banning Food?", and there were many comments after it. I read through most of them, and began to comment with my own opinion, but stopped when it was getting too lengthy and also too opinionated. I figured a better place for that would be here, since I feel this is my blog, and you can agree or disagree with me, but if you don't like it, too bad! Ha ha.
So here we go.
I think some schools are getting too crazy with banning foods. Not ours, thank goodness, although we do have nuts banned as most schools do. I can understand the peanut thing. They have a strong odor, and peanut butter is easily spread around from your fingers to door knobs, tables, chairs, etc. However, that's about all I can agree on. As it stands, neither of my children have a life-threatening food allergy. So no, I can't completely understand the fear a parent has sending their kid off to school where they may come into contact with the allergen. But that's life, isn't it? We have to teach our kids to protect themselves from anything dangerous. We teach them to cross the road safely, we don't shelter them from that. We don't tell them to never cross a road just in case. We teach them to wear a helmet when riding a bike. We don't shelter them by never letting them have one. We teach out children stranger-danger, and eventually let them out on their own. Life has risks, but we teach them how to minimize the risks, and how to deal with them in the best way. Shouldn't parents be teaching their child to wash their hands more, never accept food not packed from home, to always question if it's safe, to keep fingers and objects out of their mouths?
Why is it that a school expects EVERYONE ELSE to change their eating habits to accommodate one or two people in the school? Would we expect a classroom to stop using their eyes to accommodate a blind person's learning style? Or would we expect the curriculum to be limited to only what the student with learning disabilities can learn? Of course not!
I hear so often that children of this generation are growing up feeling entitled to everything. This feeds right into that. Because one child may have a severe milk allergy, doesn't mean the whole class, or school, should stop bringing milk products. This child could grow up thinking everyone else should go out of their way to accommodate him or her. And that's just not the way the world works, unless you're royalty or something.
I had a Facebook friend comment that her child was now not allowed to bring mushrooms, or anything that may have come into contact with mushrooms to accommodate a teacher! I was shocked. Now, I'm not criticizing her acceptance of the rule, but had it been me, I would have been LIVID! Of course, like many children, my kids won't eat mushrooms. The chance that they would bring something to school containing mushrooms would be infinitesimal. But her list of banned foods (which she said was extensive) included pizza and pasta, two things her picky child would eat. I just don't understand the logic in including things that "may contain" or "may have been in contact with". First, the chance that the food did contain a trace amount is small. Like the pizza. A pepperoni pizza may have been cut up with the same pizza cutter that cut up a previous pizza containing mushrooms. So that little tiny piece of mushroom had to get on the slice that you happen to send your child to school with. And then, that piece of tiny mushroom has to not only fall off, but also somehow find its way into the allergic teacher's system! It is ridiculous!
I never got to ask her if that included homemade pizza with homemade sauce, or likewise the pasta. But I was appalled for her, really. I struggle every day with what to make for my own two picky kids. To have someone tell them they can't have their favourite foods would be awful.
Which brings me to the second part of this rant. I also saw comments on this posed question about not just allergens, but about some schools banning junk food. And not just junk food. Some schools are banning ANY packaged foods! Some are even going so far as to ban juice!
Ever hear the expression, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink"? I think that fits well here. I get that the schools are trying to teach kids about healthy eating. I get that they are trying to help fight childhood obesity. But it's not going to work that way. You can take out junk food vending machines, which, by the way, I think is a good idea. (Kids could bring their own pocket money to school and buy junk without the parents knowing [like mine probably would, especially L]). But if you tell parents that they are NOT ALLOWED to send their kids some treats, then you are taking away their right to parent. Even if parents are not packing their kids' lunches, they are still the ones buying the food that goes into them, are they not? I like that the schools want to promote healthy choices. I like that they encourage the kids (in Kindergarten at least) to eat the healthiest items first. But I would have a big problem with someone telling me that I wasn't allowed to send anything with sugar in it. That's my choice, and my right.
Ok, it's not my right to poison my kids, to feed them whatever I want. I wouldn't feed them sugar and fat all the time, that's neglect. But everything within reason, right?
My L is picky. I have the hardest time trying to pack his lunch. Some days, he comes home with most of it uneaten, except for the treat (despite the 1003 times I've told him to eat it last!) and his juice box. And he suffers for it. We all do, actually, because his mood is terrible! But whether or not I had included that treat, he would be in the same boat. So I'm thankful for the calories that he has ingested, however undesirable they may be on the nutrition scale.
So these schools can try all they want to make parents send healthier things. But that doesn't mean that A) the kids will eat it, like my L, or B) that they just don't go home and eat a bowl of Sugar Krisp for dinner. It sounds a lot like a dictatorship to me! And the more you ban things, the more desirable they become. They should focus more on teaching them how their bodies react to certain things, what each nutrient does for the body, and go back to teaching them how to cook!!
Ok, that's my rant, ha ha. Like I said, I'm very glad the restrictions at my boys' school aren't stringent. And if they were, at least I'd have the luxury of having them come home for lunch.