I struggle with the unhealthy foods that school provides for my child. They love to have pizza parties, birthday celebrations, free donut days, and ice cream sales. Many teachers use candy and soda for positive reinforcement. This was a huge source of stress for both my son and I. It contributes to countless tears, tantrums, a huge amount of unnecessary stress, and of course, many pounds of weight gain. We work SO hard at home to stay healthy and it is so frustrating that he is offered so much junk at school.
Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
I hesitated to say anything for a long time because I didn’t want to be “that mom.” That mom who ruins everyone else’s good time. The dietitian-mom who probably doesn’t let her kid eat sweets. Crazy, healthy mom. We were relatively new to the school and I didn’t want the other moms to hate me. As the parties became more and more of a stress on our family, I began to schedule doctor appointments for my son at the same time as the class parties.
One day at the class Halloween party another mom mentioned that one of the students in my son’s class had recently been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. As I looked around the room I realized that my son was not the only child in the room, or in the school whose health was suffering from too much processed and sugary food. Was it possible that other parents might want to see a change and are afraid to say something too???
Start with an Email
I posted An Open Letter to Teachers, Principals and School Administrators on my Facebook Page, Hungry for Solutions. It got some amazing feedback and I realized that I wasn’t alone! Many parents are concerned with the amount of sugar that their children receive at school and no one wanted to say anything. It was up to me. So I emailed a copy of the letter to my son’s Head of School.
Finally I got a response. Though it wasn’t the response I was hoping for, I didn’t give up. I sent a few more gentle but firm emails arguing that other parents and teachers had no right to make decisions about what to feed my son. Allowing these well-meaning parents and teachers to bring enormous portion sized, sugar-laden, processed food to school, was contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic.
The school eventually conceded that they would begin talking to the teachers about creating a healthier school environment!!!!
A few weeks later I received a call from the school. They asked me to write a letter to the room parents and provide some healthy food party suggestions. I soon received an email that my son’s class would be having a healthy Valentine’s party this year. My message had been heard!
I even offered to bring cake pops, one for each student. They were confused, so I explained that one small cake pop per child was totally appropriate for a party.
IT WAS THE GREATEST PARTY EVER. The kids were thrilled and didn’t even notice the difference in portion sizes. They enjoyed the games and the food!
So I encourage you, plant a seed. Don’t be afraid to speak up for your children. Change won’t happen right away, but I am confident that the seed I planted will grow into a much healthier school for all of the children.
And I haven’t gotten any death threats or evil stares….yet ;).