The School Lunch Debate and The Role Teachers Play


This morning while watching Breakfast Television, there was a large online discussion about school lunches. It was also a featured story in the Toronto Star and well since I am a blogger with a kid with food issues I wanted to bring the discussion here. In the latest story out of Durham region, parents whose children have had food routinely confiscated spoke up to the Durham Region News. It was then republished yesterday in the Toronto Star and talked about on Breakfast TV this morning.

Can you imagine Goldfish crackers (the favourite snack of my daughter as a kid) are considered junk food? Granola bars that might have no nuts but a bit of chocolate no goes as well? Even string cheese has been confiscated. Let’s just say I am glad my daughter is in grade 12, and well there are no teachers to monitor her lunch choices now. You see my daughter was born with health issues that I am well aware. My daughter’s teachers knew her allergies but not her intolerances and what they did to her body.

The one day in grade 8, when teachers were making food choices for the kids in her class, my teen had a huge reaction. That reaction led to some mistakes on her part and a five-month suspension from school. Things happen.

Yes, I am for sending kids with a healthy lunch. Yes, I am for sending kids with a lunch and snacks that will fuel them for learning, but I am also a mom with a tight budget. I am a mom on a tight schedule as well. My budget, when Rachel was younger, was even tighter. Fresh food was not always available, which is why I was thankful for the morning snack program. I also had to cater her lunches to her dietary needs. I could not imagine what my reaction would have been if I got a not scolding my choices as a parent for my child.

Allowing teachers to become the food police takes away parental rights. We know our children better than their teachers. Yes, my daughter had McDonalds for lunch on occasion ( a treat meal), yes, she had pizza, yes she had banana bread and cookies in her lunches. So what. I knew what she would be taking in that day. She was a growing child, and I was doing the best for her that I could. I think as parents we all do the best we can.

The curriculum for grades 1-3 talk about healthy choices, and it was about grade 3, the teacher’s role is in the classroom not as the food police at lunch time.

I know my now teen has a healthy breakfast before she leaves, This morning it was waffles and an orange, yesterday it was eggs, toast, and juice, the day before oatmeal.  I know she may pack a couple of snacks (do to meds she takes at 8 am her appetite is suppressed for hours (something her teachers wouldn’t know). If teachers were all of a sudden taking away the bit of food, she could tolerate and give her something her body can’t handle I would be livid.

I think today; we are way too critical of each other and the choices we make. This criticalness brought into our classrooms and in the hands of our teachers can have dire consequences.  When food choices are picked apart, they can lead to issues like anxiety and worse especially if a child has any mental health issues. In other children, they will be embarrassed and perhaps left hungry as the “healthy food” often a piece of fruit is not enough to tide them over.  Let’s think twice before taking away provided foods. Let’s save those emergency lunches for kids who come to school hungry.

Right now we need to be supporting parental choices instead of policing one another. It’s a lunch after all and as long as by the end of the day and over the week there are healthy choices made that do help a child grow then parents be responsible for their children as they should be.



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