Colorado Preschool Takes Candy From a Baby

Grading lunchFour year old Natalee Pearson left for school with a ham and cheese sandwich, string cheese, and a 4-pack of Oreo cookies that her mom packed her for lunch. When she came back home the Oreos hadn’t been touched and she explained to her mom that her teacher wouldn’t allow her to eat them.

The teacher had sent home a note to clarify:

Dear Parents, It is very important that all students have a nutritious lunch. This is a public school setting and all children are required to have a fruit, a vegetable, and a healthy snack from home, along with milk. If they have potatoes, the child will also need bread to go along with it. Lunchables, chips, fruit snacks, and peanut butter are not considered to be a healthy snack. This is a very important part of our program and we need everyone’s participation.

This raises a lot of questions, but let’s start with this one:  Who the hell wrote these guidelines? I have no problem with a kid eating potatoes and bread together but it seems like an odd thing to require. They can have bread, cheese, and lunch meat on a sandwich, but they can’t have crackers, cheese, and lunchmeat (aka lunchables.) They are apparently required to drink milk regardless of preference or lactose intolerance. They can have potatoes (fried?) as long as they also have bread, but they can’t have chips. Peanut butter isn’t “considered to be a healthy snack” by whom?  Who gets to decide what is “healthy” for a child – if the teacher is vegan can he insist that kids only bring vegan food?  If a teacher thinks that paleo is the most healthy diet can she insist that kids bring paleo meals? Apparently if a teacher thinks that potatoes are only healthy when accompanied by bread they can enforce that rule on the class.

When Natalee’s mom Leeza called the school they told her that they had given her kid some “healthy alternatives” instead of her cookie.  Leeza replied “They don’t provide lunch for my daughter. I provide lunch. It’s between me and the doctor in terms of what’s healthy for her.”  The thing about “healthy choices” is that health can vary for different people (a vegan kid might find peanut butter to be a great source of protein, another kid might die if he eats it) but the operative word here is “choice” which the school took away from both the parent and the child.

I think that this is a really important thing to notice: Not only did the teacher refuse to allow a child to eat food that her parent chose for her, but they offered her food that her parent did not approve for her to eat. So not only doesn’t the school think that the kid can make the decision about what to eat from her lunchbox, they decided that the child’s legal guardian isn’t allowed to decide what to feed her child, and that it’s their right to offer the child whatever food they decide is healthy.

The school director reportedly refused to speak to Leeza, but once the media got involved the director said “the note should not have been sent out and is being investigated… the school does not have any policies regarding telling students what they can or can’t eat at lunch time.”  All evidence to the contrary.

Other parents have been chiming in online, talking about the difficulties they’ve had when the school food police thwarted their attempts to get their kids through picky eating phases, growth spurts, or *gasp* providing a variety of foods and let their kid make some food decisions.

One mom talked about packing a lot of different stuff in her kid’s lunchbox so that the kid can pick and choose what to eat based on how hungry she feels at lunchtime, but the teacher took her dessert away and told her she couldn’t have it until she ate every single thing in the lunchbox.  Another parent found out that her kid had taken to hiding in the bathroom to eat dessert after her teacher humiliated her by taking away her cookie in front of her class and lecturing her on healthy choices  – that’s definitely setting her up for a healthy relationship with food.

Upsettingly people are justifying this based on the need to “prevent obesity” which suggests that because fat people will likely continue to exist (as we always have) parents should lose their right to choose what to feed their kids.

I am tremendously grateful to teachers for the difficult work they do, and I think that they have enough to contend with, without being asked to serve as the food police. Let’s keep our eye on the ball here and focus on making sure that all kids (and all people while we’re at it) have enough food to eat, and all parents have access to the foods that they would like to feed themselves and their kids instead of trying to have the teacher supplant the parent as the person who chooses what to feed a child, if only on the off chance that the parent doesn’t think that potatoes must be accompanied by bread.

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79 thoughts on “Colorado Preschool Takes Candy From a Baby

  1. Wow. I’ve heard from some parents (I’m not a parent; a lot of people in my circle of acquaintances are) the multiple paranoid rants about how the school system has no business trying to parent other people’s kids. They don’t refer to things like publicly shaming kids for their food choices to the point where they’re hiding in the bathroom to eat, or literally taking their food away because a teacher decided that it isn’t good enough.

    You’re absolutely right in saying that teachers have to do enough without also being the food police, which really isn’t their job anyway. If the food rule is an official thing, I hope that Leeza can find a school for her daughter that will let her have her Oreos in relative peace. And if it’s not an official thing, I hope that teacher is disciplined in an appropriate way. I suggest losing his or her job, myself, but I doubt that’ll happen.

    1. As much as I hate this policy, I don’t think a teacher should lose their job for it. Teaching is so politicized here in America, and yet so underpaid, so I can hardly blame a teacher for making a mistake when teachers are supposedly one of the front lines in the “war on childhood obesity”. I’d rather educate the teacher, and attempt to relieve them of the responsibility of fighting the “war on obesity”. They have enough on their plates, as it were, teaching our children.

      I really like the lunch cards mentioned down thread.

  2. So you can only give your kid potatoes (a starch/carb) if you also give them bread (another carb) so that they’ll get a crazy energy boost after lunch and have a blood sugar crash just in time for last period? Even if you’re thinking of health, THESE REQUIREMENTS DON’T MAKE ANY F#(*ING SENSE!

    1. It’s senseless stuff like that which make me believe the administration when they said they had no official policy, and I lay it all squarely on the foot of the teacher. I believe she made up her OWN classroom policy.

    2. “So you can only give your kid potatoes (a starch/carb) if you also give them bread (another carb) so that they’ll get a crazy energy boost after lunch and have a blood sugar crash just in time for last period?”

      Not to mention the fructose in that required fruit product, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were counting juice as a fruit product.

      1. Don’t forget the unhealthy peanut butter protein you might include to balance their blood sugar! *eye roll*

  3. I work for a school – as a therapist with marginalized children, and part time as an instructor at our university — and, i.m.h.o, school systems are burgeoning monsters… no school employee has the right to shame, embarass, or ridicule a child based on what they eat — or as a form of discipline. But it happens. A lot. And what’s super scary is that it happens to the littlest of them, those with the least power and the most desire to conform, fit in, and belong. What a load of malarky. So often I have to help my students undo what schools have done to their tenuous self esteem.

    I’m so thankful for the work you started and inspired, Ragen… your blog has literally changed my life. I share you with all my peeps…especially when discussing scapegoating, stigmatizing, oppression, civil rights, and in group/out group dynamics.

  4. “This is a public school setting and all children are required to have a fruit, a vegetable, and a healthy snack from home, along with milk.”


    I’d like to see the legal code that states this.

    I’d also like to see the school sued for bullying (yes, that’s really what this is) because students are required to conform to some meaningless standards which have no basis in common sense (bread + potato=okay, really?).

    Technically, if the kid brings in cherry tomatoes and an orange, that is two fruits. So is the kid gonna flunk if he/she lacks a vegetable?

  5. So many thoughts rush to mind after reading this…the appalling shaming of a child; the reprehensible bullying of a child; the attempt to usurp a parent’s right to determine what is best for their child; and the utter lack of nutritional common sense. (That bread and potato statement has me shaking my head.) But one of the biggest is the fact that the teacher could have endangered the live of that child by substituting an “approved” snack for the Oreos. What if the child has an allergy to something in that “approved” snack and has a reaction? Who will take responsibility then?

    1. That was my first thought. It’s possible to be allergic to almost any food. I know a guy who has a deathly allergy to all legumes. Lentils can literally kill him. There was a story in the news the other day about a boy who ate a Quorn Turk’y burger who died because the mushroom matter in it triggered a fatal asthma attack. Who would imagine a veggie burger could kill? Mr. Twistie would have been utterly screwed by that policy because he’s always been lactose intolerant. Milk makes his entire digestive system explode. And while they won’t kill me or make me throw up or anything, nobody wants to be around me if I’ve eaten an apple! Sonic farts for hours.

      1. I knew someone who was allergic to seafood. ALL seafood. If it lived at least part of its life in salt water and belonged in Kingdom Animalia, it could kill her.

      2. Oh, and: I lived with periodic agonizing lower bowel symptoms for years. Gross, painful stuff. I just figured that my stupidbrokenfat body was being stupid at me again.

        After I broke out of that mindset, I started looking for an actual reason for the bellyaches. Turns out that oranges, that sainted holy thrifty super-nutritious food, make me vilely ill! (But satsumas don’t. Go figure.)

        1. I love satsuma soap!

          I have troubles with oranges too. Give me horrible pains. I limit my juice intake greatly.

    2. That’s what came to my mind too. My nephew has a number of food allergies. Milk being one of them, not lactose intolerance, an actual needs an epipen if he has it allergy. Giving him anything if you don’t know his allergy list is downright dangerous.

      1. I got a chill when I thought of how a child’s life might be endangered by some teacher’s determination of what’s healthy or not healthy for that child. No one is going to know what’s better for a child than the parents, and the parents are going to do what’s best for their child, to keep them safe and healthy.

    3. I’m seriously allergic to sunflower seeds and have been poisoned a number of times by this allergen lurking in stuff like salad, pesto (a really scary reaction to pesto made with sunflower instead of pine nuts or walnuts or almonds), pancakes…

      Sunflower seeds are axiomatically healthy snacks, but pure poison to me! This school is ridiculously out of line.

  6. When my nephew was around 6, at his infant school, he took a packed lunch one day. It included one of those “fun size” Milky Way bars. The lunchtime Gestapo decided that this was totally unacceptable, and made him go and sit at a table by himself, despite the fact that he’d not misbehaved in any way to merit such punishment. He, too, was sent home with a note to my sister, telling her that in future, she was not to include chocolate items in his packed lunch, as this was contrary to their “healthy eating” approach at school. My nephew was totally mortified at having been singled out in front of everyone, and had failed to eat the majority of his lunch as a result, and my sister duly contacted the school to ask who they thought they were, making him sit alone when he’d actually done nothing wrong, and pointing out that she is responsible for his daily food requirements, not them. She felt that if he’d had a school dinner, that was a different matter, they can clearly provide what they see as fit. By way of mollifying her, the school offered my nephew a free school dinner. My sister didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, though, when he came home and told her what he’d had – roast chicken with various vegetables and roast potatoes, followed by….wait for it…..chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce!!!How is this better than a fun sized Milky Way bar?? Teachers were trained to teach, not as dietitians and nutritionists, and being the food Gestapo should not be within their remit.

  7. This actually happened to me in second or third grade about 20 years ago. In the cafeteria, a teacher saw me eating a donut I had purchased FROM THE SCHOOL CAFETERIA, and took the donut away for being a bad food choice. Coincidentally the girls who called me a disgusting fat pig were never reprimanded for poor word choices…

  8. My school does the same thing. Actually my nanny packed me a small (I think they’re called treat size?) chocolate bar when I was 6 years old. My teacher took it away from me and said that it wasn’t healthy. And then she ate it in front of me. I’m 25 now and I’m still confused by this!

  9. My middle school as someone like that working there. She was a real piece of work. I can’t count how many times she also told me I was was breaking dress code when I wasn’t just because I had breasts that weren’t an A or B cup.

    I always found it confusing how they could even think to go “your parents aren’t making the right choices for you!” uh says who? Did you stand there with my mom and choose what went in my lunch? No? Can it.

    Actually ran into her not to long ago, she commented on how fat I have gotten. I told her, that yes I am fat, and I would much rather be fat and happy then be suffering with the ED I am working to get over and miserable.

  10. I’m glad this stuff is finally making the news so everyone can see how ridiculous these policies have gotten. Cheers to the mom who was brave enough to publicly stand up to this foolishness. Now maybe her little girl won’t think there’s something terribly wrong with her for liking Oreos,
    and that treats that everybody eats are some kind of crime. It’s this kind of thinking that triggers eating disorders, of both the restricting and binging type.

  11. I cannot begin to imagine the size of the gasket my mother would have blown if such a note had been sent home to her. Nobody, but NOBODY got to make decisions for her kids but her, and that teacher is luckier than she/he will ever know that one of my mom’s kids is not in her class. No phone calls would have been made; my mother would have been on the bus with me the next day and there would have been a face-to-face “talk,” and I guaran-damn-tee that that would have been the end of the interference by the teacher/school. (I speak from experience – my mother made her voice heard many a time during my childhood, and she spoke in a way that was impossible to brush off.) Maybe she couldn’t change the world, but she ran her corner of it really, really efficiently, and on days like this, I wish she were around to sweep out some stupid.

  12. I have run across this in both public and private school settings with both my kids, and it makes me FURIOUS. In preschool, my daughter’s granola bar was taken from her, and she was told she couldn’t eat it because it was a treat and not healthy. Let me tell you that the teacher in that classroom might still have singe marks from the scorching conversation I had with her. We follow the Ellyn Satter Division of Responsibility philosophy with both our kids (in a nutshell, parents provide the what and when of eating, kids decide how much and what they want to eat, in what order) and it has worked very well for our family. No foods are demonized; all food is good food, etc.

    It is a DAILY struggle to have our parental philosophy on this (backed by decades of rigorous scientific research, as opposed to most of the “nutrition education” being peddled these days in schools) not undermined. My kids are told over and over that “unhealthy” foods are bad and to be avoided. In my son’s fifth grade class, the teacher told the class that vegetables were really the best snack for them to bring because they don’t have many calories. OMG, I nearly lost my mind thinking about that class of vulnerable kids–especially the 10- and 11-y-o girls, at peak age to be at risk of developing an eating disorder–listening to utter codswallop like that from a role model. My husband and I went in to talk with her about it, and she told us that she herself is a recovering anorexic.

    My son, who is now in 6th grade, is very good at counterprogramming these messages after years of hearing me rant and rave about them. I worry more about my daughter because she’s younger and a girl. I guess I just have to keep on ranting.

    BTW, if others are interested, Katja Rowell ( has excellent resources including printable cards that can be put in kids’ lunchbox explaining the DoR and setting out the expectation that kids are allowed to eat (or not eat) anything packed in their lunch and in any order they want. I have used them with both my kids, and they’ve worked well, at least in the lunchroom setting.

  13. Even if there was some argument to be made that the school had any damn business deciding what kids eat — and I really don’t see where they do — why am I going to trust a school that has random requirements like potatoes requiring a second starch or “peanut butter isn’t healthy”?

    Not only does that really not make their case that they know better than the parent about nutrition, it’s going to be really dangerous if that teacher ever gets hold of, say, a diabetic kid. They’re risking physical harm to the kids, not just the emotional trauma of being shamed over a couple of cookies.

    The stupid. It burns.

    1. Yes, I have been wondering how a teacher (who already has a stressful job) can be expected to monitor the food intake of 20+ pupils. I would not remember if little Johnny or little Joey already had a chocolate bar yesterday, and better should not have another one today…
      My mom sent me to school with a sandwich and an apple (a banana or an orange, if I was lucky.) I heard that nowadays some schools tell parents to avoid fruit and better give their kids vegetables, because fruits are to sweet.

  14. Wow. So, either the administration is lying about the policy, or else the teacher took it upon herself to implement her own classroom policy. Either way, it’s heinous.

    As you say, it’s bad enough taking away something the parent (who KNOWS the child) has approved, but to then replace it with something else the parent (who KNOWS THE CHILD!) has NOT approved, and my blood is boiling.

    I know kids with food allergies. I used to be a nursery leader at church, and we provided snacks every week. We were careful to provide food that worked for everyone who was present, or else a variety, so that everyone who was present could have something, even if they did not all have the same thing. That way there was some variety. It was just a snack, so crackers or dry cereal, but allergies were still an issue.

    Had it been a lunch, I would have had to really study up on my nutrition before I could make plans that would work for everyone, and even then, I would have made sure to get input from each parent about their own child. OK, it was a small nursery, but still!

    Ever had the food police tell you to put down the white bread, and get whole grains, instead? Well, whole grains could seriously harm my sisters. They’re not allowed to eat whole grains. Bananas? Forget about it? Potatoes? Only if they’re first either boiled or soaked and drained. Lunch meats? They’re not supposed to eat processed meats, but they ARE supposed to eat lots and lots of protein, preferably animal protein. Milk is out. Cheese is out. Yogurt is out. Legumes are out. Nuts are out. So they eat a lot of chicken and steak. $$$

    Some fruits are in, and some are out, and some can only be eaten if they have been canned, because the canning process renders them safer. It has to do with the amounts of certain nutrients in them, and yes, what is required for other people is downright dangerous for my sisters, because reasons I won’t go into.

    And, get this: Fruits are encouraged, but the list is limited, and there is one particular fruit, which is quite healthy for most people, but that will KILL my sisters. Dead. Because of nutrition.

    So, yeah, the mother was right: It’s between her and her child’s doctor. And the child needs to have input about preferences, and what works for her. The teacher has no business other than making sure that the child does, in fact, have something to eat. If the child is lunchless, then that child will not learn as well in the afternoon. THAT is when you send home snarky notes. NOT because you don’t like what the parents packed.

    Did I mention my blood is just boiling at this?

    1. Is it grapefruit? The meds I’m on mean that I can’t have grapefruit, same with my mom’s blood pressure medication.

    2. Sounds like a renal diet and my guess is the deadly fruit is starfruit… Great example of why schools should leave nutrition to parents unless there is actual evidence of neglect.

  15. Also, things like this are why home-schooling is becoming popular again. It’s not all about religious conservatives wanting to protect their “quiverfull” from the “heathen” world. It’s about parents wanting to protect their children from the horribleness that is the public school system. That, and having more control over what the children actually learn in school, such as actual, factually correct sex education, and a more balanced history.

    I highly support home schooling, and this is just another reason for it.

    1. I actually have fond memories of school lunch. I’m old enough to remember big pans of bubbling tuna-mushroom-celery casserole or Johnny Marzetti and a lunch lady who would listen when you asked for the center or the corner or some from the bottom. We had spinach way too often, but it was just one of those things, like teachers all having coffee breath. We got cartons of milk–whole milk, mind you!–still partly frozen and thought that was awesome. Fruit cocktail with maraschino cherries–the kid who got TWO OF THEM got to boast all afternoon. And kids got to help with the dishes.

      So I signed up for the summer lunch program the year before last, because we qualify. I was nostalgic right up until we got to the front of the line. Pallid, limp, meager portions of prepackaged this and that zapped in a microwave, plopped down on a disposable paper tray, and eaten with the cheapest possible plastic cutlery. Tasteless “healthy” salad–at least the spinach was OK if you mixed it with the mac and cheese! Fat-free milk, so you’re even thirstier after you drink it than before (skimming concentrates the sodium). Separate lines for kids in the same school because as soon as you move up to X grade (I forget which) you are allotted an extra few square inches of pizza, but if you’re below X grade and get that credit-card-sized extra bit the USDA will deny funding. My kids just sat there staring at their trays.

      Reason number eleventy zillion why I homeschool: there’s nothing to eat in the cafeteria!

      1. Oh, and when I was considering putting a child in Head Start, I checked out the meal menus. They listed bottles of water as part of the nutritional profile. Because if the kids got milk or juice on certain days, that would break USDA guidelines about how many calories they were allowed to eat because faaaaaaaaaat.

        1. And to make meals even more uncomfortable…

          My friend told me about how her son’s school has instituted a silent lunch policy.

          Yep. You send your children to school “for the socialization,” and then they are supposed to sit down and shut up during class, they get rid of recess, and now no talking at lunch!

          She used to go visit her son and have lunch with him, but since all they are allowed to do is sit quietly and stare at each other while they chew, her son asked her not to bother coming to eat with him, any more.

          I suppose they figured that making a meal a social time would be too much positive energy combined with food, and that might make kids actually think that food is a positive thing, as well! We can’t have that!

          And back in my day, if we wanted skim milk, we had to bring it from home. We had whole or 2% chocolate.

          1. I’ve seen some films/tv series from before I was born, that featured military meal times (one was a Columbo ep). The whole quiet time and put down the fork btw bites was supposed to make the meal “wholesome”, as in don’t rush your food. But you weren’t allowed extra time.

            That whole “no talking at lunch” with your friend reminded me of this.

      2. Sadly, the food lunch budgets are cut sooo slim and there’s sooo many “rules”. Also school food service folks don’t get paid jack squat either. So not only is the food poor quality, the workers paid bad, but the they have to rush these kids through super fast (usually with just one or two people). My mom had to get like 400 through an hour, they the kids get 15-20 to scarf down the questionable food and go right back to class. I don’t even had kids and it pisses me off

    2. I really don’t think this is necessarily a public school problem. I have definitely heard of these kinds of things in private and parochial schools as well. Yes, homeschooling is one way to solve that, but it is certainly not an option for all families.

      1. True, and it doesn’t work for all children. Some families have one child who is home schooled and another who isn’t, because the children are individuals, with different needs.

        The point is that the parents need to be able to maintain their rights to choose what is best for their own children, and not have some over-reaching ninny taking those choices away.

  16. I recently heard that some primary schools in the UK are only allowing kids to bring water to drink (alongside the school provided milk cartons) which I don’t think is a good idea. Yes water may be the healthiest choice but a lot of kids don’t like it and won’t drink it so the school/s are risking dehydration in the kids just over a stupid rule.

  17. This is APPALLING. How DARE they interfere with a parent and their child. I would have stormed into that school and probably even taken up a law suit for the sole purpose of scaring ANYONE who bullies, humiliates, and confuses my child. My kids go to a private school and they do have a few rules- must eat sandwich/main part of lunch before eating the other parts…and that’s fine with me. But if they EVER tell my child something isn’t healthy or acceptable or that they cannot eat it- they will have my wrath to face.

  18. Ragen and all,
    Can we collectively come up with a proactive note to teachers to be included in kids’ lunchboxes, basically saying hands off this kid’s lunch and STFU about food choices!

  19. I simply cannot believe that the schools are doing this to children. How far are they going to go with dictating what a child can and cannot eat? The term over-stepping is a huge understatement in this instance. I am appalled. Thank you for bringing this to my attention!

  20. Not to mention that for poor families, “requiring” them to send their children with a fruit, a vegetable, and an approved health snack may be “requiring” them to do something their budget simply cannot manage. This school’s (or teacher’s?) assumptions that every family has access to the same kinds of “approved” foods is deeply, deeply classist in itself.

    1. “Eat the rainbow!” Yeah, first you have to be able to afford the rainbow. My family is still technically middle class–and we can’t. We get purple grapes three or four times a year.

  21. Oops, meant “approved healthY snack”, not “health snack” — though it kinda works either way.

  22. Actually, this reminds me of a thing that annoys the bajeepers out of me – “healthy” versions of things, especially like cookies (like the oats and banana and chocolate chips type things).

    I was actually talking to a 5 year old at work yesterday about this! Her mom was telling me about how they like my Storytime so much better than the one in their town (*preens*), mostly because of the informality of it, and how much younger it’s geared than mine, which makes it boring for my storytime girl (SG). SG pipes up and says, “And I don’t like their snacks!”

    Apparently at the last Storytime one of the mothers brought in Fig Newtons, and neither SG nor her mom was impressed. I said I didn’t really liked them either, and then said, either bring in fruit as a snack, or bring in cookies, don’t try and do both, you know?

    I mention that I like fruit, and SG says and says, “I like my fruit too!” all proud of herself, and it was kind of seriously adorable.

    1. Aww, I like Fig Newtons. It’s really hard to find good fresh figs around here and I love figs.

      1. when we were small my brother and I stole an entire family size box of fig newtons and ate them – with miserable results. I still can’t LOOK at one…

  23. OMG, my niece and I were laughing at the California WIC food lists the other day. Apparently potatoes are the DEVIL! As are dried beans if they have flavor packets. Flavor packets are the DEVIL! Sorry, we were laughing A LOT.

    She also told me that some random person came up to her at the grocery store check out when she was pregnant, saw she was using WIC and told her she had too much fruit in her basket. Fruit turns into sugar, you know. I love the random “she’s buying food with my tax dollars so I must tell her what she’s doing wrong” crap. She thinks the lady thought she was just a dumb teenager or something–she is a tiny little thing.

    1. To anybody lurking here who has ever felt the urge to do anything like this to anybody ever:

      1. Shut up and walk the other way.

      2. See rule 1.

      Whether you’re fretting about fats or poors or youngs or moms or preggies or whomever–not your stomach, not your pantry,

    2. “I love the random “she’s buying food with my tax dollars so I must tell her what she’s doing wrong” crap.”

      Oh I can assure you it doesn’t stop with people on WIC – as a fat person, people often feel the need to tell me what I should and shouldn’t be eating. I’ve had complete strangers look into my cart and tell me I “shouldn’t be buying that” and do I “really think I need that?”. I kid you not.

      Though, the people saying something is fairly uncommon, mostly I just get (and this happens nearly every single time I go shopping) someone looks at me (usually up and down with a look of disgust) then looks into my cart like they are searching for a “reason”. If they happen to see something they deem “bad food” they will often get a smug look on their face like – yep, she’s a fatty because ____ (input whatever food they deem “fat causing”).

      People do the same thing if I’m at a restaurant. The whole “look me up and down and then zero in on my plate” as though searching for that evil food that I must be eating to “make me fat”. It’s really stupid and makes me angry because it’s literally any time and every time I dare be in public and either eating food or purchasing it. And unless I’m eating nothing but rabbit food (ie a garden salad with nothing on it) I get that smug look of “oh I found what it is that she’s eating wrong”, bullshit.

      That judgmental “food police” bullshit has gotten so much worse since I moved out here to California.

      1. Oh, I know.

        Why can’t people pay attention to their own carts?

        My niece was so surprised, she wasn’t used to food policing because she’s tiny. It gave her great insight to the ridiculousness of people.

      2. Next time, try making ecstatic love to your next bite (minus the sex noises). It got people to leave me alone.

  24. The only time I’ve judged my students’ lunches is if I was concerned they were getting enough to eat. In which case I passed on my concern to the school nurse. She contacts the family to find out more and offer resources if outside support is needed. As a teacher and I don’t have the time or energy to police what my students eat. I’m too busy trying to TEACH (or administer standardized tests, but that’s a different rant).

  25. We live in Canada. Our son’s grade one teacher was a Weight Watcher’s leader and policed students’ lunches daily. This went on for years until her retirement. This happened in a school that serves hotdogs weekly as part of a fundraising program. They also served “fruit slushies” in the concession to make money for sports teams. My sister is a teacher; the workload is incredible. Let parents worry about lunch. Schools need to concentrate on ensuring our students can read.

  26. The “guild lines” sent home by the school are those dictated by the USDA and what schools serve children to make sure all food groups are covered for the sake of nutrition. But they DO NOT HAVE ANY SAY OVER WHAT A CHILD BRINGS FROM HOME!! PERIOD. If you elect to let the school feed your child then they will make sure that all of those components are available to them. AVAILABLE being the important word here. No one should EVER EVER make a child consume something they don’t like, or make them consume everything on their plate. When toddlers are exposed to fresh fruits and vegetables they will grow into adults that like lots of different foods from which THEY CAN CHOOSE. This being said, I know that a lot of people don’t have access to fresh foods due to food deserts or economics, and that is a failing of our society. But what happened in this story is a total injustice and infringement on that families rights.

  27. I was mulling this today, and it brought to mind an anecdote. Sometime mid-nineties, I was listening to a radio show that featured a nutritionist. People could call in with their questions and she’d answer them.

    One day a mom called in. I don’t remember exactly what her son had, something to do with the liver, maybe? But he needed more fat and protein than most people and had to limit his fiber intake. She called in to ask the nutritionist how to make that setup healthier for him.

    Instead of answering that question, the nutritionist treated the mom to a long condescending rant about how she should stop worrying about protein and put him on a low-fat vegetarian diet.

    You know, the diet the mom had JUST SAID HER KID COULDN’T EAT.

    Aside from being retroactively appalled she didn’t even listen to what the woman was asking before launching into an answer that was both insulting and a non-sequiter… I wonder if she started condescending like that to low-fat vegetarians a few years later when high-protein weight loss diets paid their way into fashion.

  28. The lunch box Nazis are operating in some Australian schools too.

    My neighbour told me that she was given a list of “suitable” foods that her 5 yo son is “encouraged” to bring for lunch at school. She also has to supply 2 small serves of raw cut up VEGETABLES each day for her son to eat in class time because the principal believes that having a raw snack mid morning and another mid afternoon aids concentration. Fruit is not considered a suitable snack because of the sugar however they are allowed a piece of fruit with their lunch.

    I remember last year on the radio hearing of a woman who received a note from her children’s school advising her not to include muffins in their lunch boxes as they aren’t considered healthy. She stormed up to the school and informed them that she had made the SAVOURY muffins herself and why weren’t they healthy? They were spinach and cheese. The school’s reasoning was that even though the muffins were vegetable that other children would see the muffins and then want to bring choc chip muffins etc from home. Easier not to allow any muffins than to accept savoury ones, less confusion.

  29. Ridiculous. I’ve taught children over the years and it never once occurred to me to take their food away or to lecture them on what they’re eating. Aside from that, they eat their other meals at home anyway! So what kind of difference do these teachers honestly think they’re making?

  30. [Note from Ragen: This is a reply to a comment that has been deleted for precisely the reasons laid out here, I’m leaving the comment because of the important points made.] Wow. Excellent combo of axe-grinding and point-missing. And the arrogance-and-condescension cherry on top (“Distorted”? With no evidence? Again, wow.) was a nice detail, too.

    Have you ever considered that, CACFP guidelines aside, it’s no one’s business but the parents’ to decide if children need “re-nourishing”? Or that if outside meals are allowed at all — as well they should be — that the it’s quite possibly not the school’s business what the child’s parent wants them to eat? Or that the “requirements” in the letter — potatoes must be paired with bread, milk is necessary, peanut butter is “unhealthy” — not only make no sense but might be medically harmful to some children?

    And don’t even get me started on the idea that all children are somehow entitled to the exact same foods and that we must somehow protect them from potentially liking someone else’s lunch more than their own.

    Oh… and one last thing: paragraph breaks are free and available to everyone, so you might want to take advantage.

    1. I agree. lifeseedsnutrition’s comment is out of line at best, utterly condescending at worst.

      “the learning curve of how to re-nourish our children and our culture”

      LOL Ohhhh Wow. I forgot, we’re all a bunch of numbskulls who don’t know how to feed our children properly. Good thing there are such intelligent and selfless people like “lifeseedsnutrition” around to show us the right path and to save us and our children from ourselves.

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