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My View On School Food Rules
There’s been a lot of discussion online lately about School Food Rules. Specifically about the fact that some schools / kindergartens / daycares are telling parents what not to put in their child’s lunch box.
Firstly, let’s start with some statistics:
- one in nine children (aged 2–14 years) were obese (11%)
- a further 21% of children were overweight but not obese
- 15% of Māori children were obese
- 30% of Pacific children were obese
- the child obesity rate increased from 8% in 2006/07 to 11% in 2014/15.
These statistics are from the New Zealand Health.govt.nz website.
Each year our population grows, and each year it gets bigger. Each year as human beings we should be learning and evolving. We should be understanding what works and what doesn’t work.
Knowledge works. Educating our children works. Schools is where our children spend a huge amount of their time, so it makes sense that as parents, we work closely with the teachers.
So for me personally, I do not mind the schooling system having guidelines in place around what should or shouldn’t be in lunch boxes. For starters, it’s their school and their guidelines. Just like a child has to wear a uniform, or not have their nose pierced; those are the school rules.
In my personal opinion, lunches are there to help fuel your child during the day. As I said in my “Putting A School Lunch Together” post, your child needs foods containing slow-releasing energy. Not sweets, lollies, chips, fizzy drinks, etc etc, which contain fast releasing energy.
I do not mind that education facilities have guidelines about what’s good in a school lunch box.
What I do mind is how they approach the parent / child when it comes to enforcing those rules. It really does have to be in a way which encourages participation. Teaching our community about food can be done in a nice way so as to not make out like you’re shaming the parent.
Remember: nobody likes to be told off!
Not all of us are born knowing everything. We all need to learn, and often what we learn from our parents is what we teach to our children.
We’ve all said “well I grew up with it and I’m fine” …
Schools should be issuing a “this is what we would like to see” list of foods to the parents at the beginning of each term; outlining what is expected and not expected from the parent.
This list, of course, needs to be broad (i.e. not just lettuce wraps) because not all families can afford the same thing.
If something ends up in a child’s lunch box which is not on the list of accepted foods, then the school needs to contact or talk to the parent directly, in my opinion. NOT go through the child – especially a young child who is impressionable.
I know food education is key, but there is a fine line between educating a child and causing them to panic over something which they don’t need to be knowing or worrying about. I do believe food education should be a part of our schooling curriculum, but not to really young kids.
Chat to the parents, talk to them about what is going in the lunch box. If it’s home baking then that should be fine (in my opinion). However some kids do have medical issues which require them to eat a specific diet – such as Autistic children sometimes have sensory issues and can only eat a specific food. In this instance the whole “chatting to the parent” thing actually becomes extremely useful.
There are so many people out there who have no idea that chips and lollies and fizzy drink aren’t good for the kids. And if they do then sometimes they just don’t care about it.
So do I think the schools need to be having food guidelines? Heck yes.
Our kids need the best food possible to help them get through their day, and to learn. And also we slowly need to be teaching them about the importance of good foods, so that they can then grow up knowing more than we did.
Because that’s the ultimate goal – educating our kids for the next generation of awesomeness. I want my kids to be smarter and more knowledgable than me, and I’m sure you want that for your kids too.
PARENTS: Please try not to take any kind of “suggestion” personally. For the most part the school won’t be setting out to try and lunch box shame you. I would imagine every parent who has something in their child’s lunch which isn’t on the “acceptable foods list” will have a notification. You won’t be the only one being singled out.
Note: Please remember I am not an expert. I am just a Mum with an opinion. If you do not agree with me then that is absolutely fine – this would be an incredibly boring world if we all thought the same thing!