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Letter From School Over Child's Lunchtime Treat Sparks Debate Among Parents

Lex Gabrielle 16 Nov 2020

There are many parents across the country who pack their child's lunch for them every day of the week for school. Some parents opt for simple lunches, while others like to get creative. Either way, as long as a child is stocked and supported with food to keep them nourished during their school day, there shouldn't be a problem...right?

Sometimes, teachers get involved in their students' lunch selections.

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There are times when teachers will see a student's lunch and make comments of concern. Recently, a teacher even asked parents to, "not make such elaborate lunches," because they thought it would make other kids feel bad.

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Some schools are trying to opt for "healthy options" for students.

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When it comes to school lunches and snacks, it seems like there is a trend in schools to supply healthy snacks such as fruit, vegetables, and other low-sugar treats.

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When parents are responsible for packing their own child's lunch, the school may offer suggestions and guidelines.

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Some foods are banned because of their potential allergy risks to staff and students. However, in recent years, schools have also been more involved when it comes to suggesting healthy lunch options for students — even when it's the parents who make the final decision.

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In 2017, one teacher's letter home to parents sparked a debate among other parents online.

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A family friend, Miranda Tankard Reist, posted on Facebook about a letter her friend received from her three-year-old child's teacher, saying that their lunch was "unhealthy."

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The letter said that a "chocolate slice" included in the lunch was from the "red category".

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The letter had a huge, red, frowning face and said, "Please choose healthier options for Kindy." "Kindy" is the short form for "kindergarten" used by parents in New Zealand and Australia. A "chocolate slice" is a chocolate loaf or cake.

Reist said in her Facebook post, "My friend (mother of 8 healthy children, what follows relating to no. 7) 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."

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For context, Australia uses the "traffic light" to teach students about healthy foods.

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According to the Nutrition Australia Facebook page:

“Traffic light guidelines classify individual food and drink items as Green, Amber or Red according to nutritional value. And they’re often used in places where buying foods and drinks is optional, such as school canteens or food outlets."

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Reist also added some additional information about the treat in a Facebook comment.

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"Just to add my friend makes everything from scratch for her kids including bread and serves fresh healthy food every day," she said. She also mentioned that the parents both have degrees in health science.

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The note actually sparked a debate as to whether the parents were "shamed" for including the treat.

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Reist even appeared on an Australian radio show in 2017 to discuss the incident and how it made her friends feel.

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Many people online felt rather strongly about the letter sent home.

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One parent said the delivery was wrong.

"I think the way it's delivered is humiliating. Why not send home a letter to all parents saying what's allowed and what's not? Don't make parents feel like they are kindy kids," she said.

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Some parents said that the "traffic light" system made no sense.

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"A system where a hotdog in a white roll is classed as 'green' and a BLT is 'red' is one I don't respect, sorry. If I received such a note I would be providing quite a bit of constructive criticism," one parent said.

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Others said it's not the teacher's place to tell parents how to feed their kids.

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"Good gracious! We have no right to tell people what to feed their children. And let's face it, I make [a] healthy slice made with avocado and cocoa..... no this is wrong [on] so many levels," someone wrote.

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Another added that while they appreciate healthy options, the letter was not nice.

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"I can appreciate healthy eating and having certain foods not allowed at preschool, for the safety of those allergic but the delivery of the note in a childish fashion via the child is somewhat wrong ... as a parent who got a note saying no kiwi fruit and 3/4s thru the year forgot and sent it, my son was asked to sit in a different area and wash mouth and hands afterward ... and yes, I got an adult written reminder," she added.

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However, some parents said that the teachers are simply trying to teach kids about unhealthy and healthy foods.

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"It's the education department guidelines for red, green, and amber foods. They are trying to teach our kids about healthy eating. Remember the food triangle? Same idea," one person said.

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Overall, it seems that a lot of parents had strong reactions to this note.

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Even though the original Facebook post was originally shared in 2017, it currently has about 2,800 comments, with many people taking the parents' sides and saying that the note was inappropriate. The post continues to generate comments and debates online.

What do you think? Did this school cross the line by sending this note home?

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