Last week I shared a reader’s account of a teacher who used candy and other junk food to teach kindergarteners the ABCs and who was oblivious to two reported food allergies in her classroom. But the story had a happy ending: after the parent met with the teacher, the junk food program was dropped and the teacher was better informed about the food allergies.
Today I want to share with you another reader success story pertaining to food in the classroom. Here it is:
Just wanted to share a small success story, and thank you for your work on The Lunch Tray, which inspired me to take a stand for healthier food at my kids’ school.
I have always been bothered by candy rewards in the classroom and donuts and cupcakes served at school birthday celebrations. After reading every post on the subject on your blog, I set up a meeting with my school’s principal and PTA president, armed with your Food-in-the-Classroom Manifesto. They agreed with me in principle but were very reluctant to change the policy because food is such a sensitive issue for parents. The principal suggested a survey from a grassroots parent group to see if there would be support in the community, so I formed a Wellness Committee with like-minded moms and we sent out a survey on school birthday celebrations to parents. We had a clear majority in favor of eliminating birthday treats.
We gave the survey results to the administration, along with recommendations for alternative ways to celebrate birthdays based on parent feedback, and they implemented a new policy before the beginning of the school year. Parents are no longer allowed to bring in food for birthdays. Instead, the school has come up with simple and meaningful ways to honor kids’ birthdays. Since it was clear that parents supported a healthier school environment, the school also adopted a no candy in the classroom policy.
Naturally, there has been a mixed response and some parents are angry. Hopefully things will calm down and our committee will be able to focus on positive changes we can make in the school, rather than just take things away.
Anyway, thank you for giving me the tools to make a small difference. I really enjoy your blog and have been following silently for a while now.
This story made me feel so good, knowing that the discussions here on The Lunch Tray and my “manifesto” helped inspire a parent to make significant, positive changes.
And in turn this reader inspired me to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’ve had mixed success reducing classroom treats at my own kid’s school and given that my son is going to graduate next year, I was starting to wonder if it was worth trying anymore. But last night i sent an email to our elementary school principal asking for permission to send out my own survey to quantify parents’ views on birthday treats and food rewards, as well as chocolate milk and a la carte junk food in the cafeteria. Perhaps this data will help me in my efforts, just as it helped this reader.
Clearly we can all learn from and support each other in this forum, so if you have your own food-in-the-classroom story to share, feel free to email it to me at bettina at thelunchtray dot com.
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