A mother-of-eight who baked her own chocolate slice and sent it to an Australian kindergarten was stunned to receive a note from her child’s teacher telling her to stop sending it in.
The mum had packed her child a chocolate slice and the teacher wanted her to re-evaluate her food options.
Writer and commentator Melinda Tankard Reist shared a picture of the controversial note.
“My friend (mother of 8 healthy children) received this today from her 3 year old’s kindy. I told her to put in two slices tomorrow and tell them to get lost,” she captioned the picture.
The note sent home with the mum had a sad face and read, “Your child has, ‘chocolate slice’ (which was written), from the Red Food category today. Please choose healthier options for Kindy”.
A popular guideline for healthy choices at schools is the traffic light system, which categorises foods and drinks according to their nutritional value and is used in many school canteens. Green being the best, and red food – which includes cakes, confectionery, fats and soft drink – not being recommended.
At this preschool the guidelines are also followed in the classroom, with the mum told to stop sending her ‘red food’ chocolate slice.
Melinda said the slice was sent to school after the family had leftover birthday cake.
“My friend felt bad that she has broken the rules. I posted the image because I reacted to it. I support healthy eating, but I’m concerned about where this approach takes us,” she says.
She said the post attracted a lot of attention with mums telling stories of children whose food was sent home – because it was not approved so the child had nothing to eat all day.
“Organic sugarless zucchini muffins and banana and almond muffins were sent home. Cupcakes were sent home which had less sugar and calorie content than the approved muesli bar.”
Her biggest concern is shaming food because when children “see food as’ good’ or ‘bad’ it can set them up for eating disorders”.
Most schools have food policies to cater for children with allergies and to teach students about a healthy lifestyle with nutritious canteen options, nut-free zones, and nude-food lunch boxes.
But many parents who commented on Melinda’s post were not impressed about the strict policing on lunch boxes.
“I would staple this note to the teachers forehead. If you want to police what a parent packs in their child’s lunch box, do away with packed lunches all together and provide food at the centre,” one dad posted.
Another wrote; “Oh that’s a bit over the top!! Clear guidelines about food in a handbook is one thing this is another!… plus … are we not allowed a little treat for afternoon tea ???”
A mum wrote; “How do they know it wasn’t made from cacao, quinoa and dates? Regardless I don’t think it’s OK for schools to be policing food choices. Guidelines should be presented but then it should be up to parents decision”
Others thought the tone of the letter was embarrassing for the parent.
“I think the way it’s delivered is humiliating. Why not send home a letter to all patents saying what’s allowed and what’s not. Don’t make parents feel like they are kindy kids!”
While others shared similar stories.
“This happened to my wife when she sent in sugar-free zucchini brownies, our son was the same age,” a dad wrote.
“Yuck. These are choices parents get to make. I got a note like this for sending in plain popcorn once and I’m still quietly enraged,” another added.
A mum says she remains confused about food guidelines. “I got a note for sending chocolate tiny teddies, yet the honey or plain ones were absolutely acceptable,” she wrote.
But the debate was split on Facebook, with many other parents defending the message in the letter.
“A poor method of communicating their concern to the parents, but the early childhood national quality framework actually states that healthy eating needs to be embedded in their program. This is a part of the standards for remaining an accredited placement,” one wrote.
Another said, “I don’t have a problem with it. They are doing their best to encourage healthy eating and have to start somewhere.
A teacher says she agrees because unfortunately many children’s lunches are filled with “unhealthy” sugar-filled food.
“They need to make it a blanket rule even if your child like mine eat healthy all the time and it’s just a treat. Some children also don’t understand that you have treats after lunch etc. I believe it would be in the policy and the teachers need to try to enforce this Rule although they are really directing to those parents who think roll ups are real fruit!”