When Enough is Enough

I’ve been thinking.

Dangerous, I know.   But it seems to me that in this life, in order to change, in order to grow, in order to be constantly learning and evolving…you’ve got to be able to change your mind.

Oh, not in the flip-floppy way that’s so often maligned by politicians.  Not in an “I was against high-fructose corn syrup and then I was for it” kind of way.  More like an EVOLUTIONARY kind of mind-changing.  More like, “I was cool with a lot of things at first, and then I realized I wasn’t cool with some of those things anymore, and now I’m EVEN LESS cool with most of them.”

For example:  Food at school.

I hesitate to even enter this fray, knowing full well that many intelligent, articulate bloggers before me have practically had to get bodyguards after suggesting publicly that maybe our kids don’t need to bring cupcakes to school on their birthdays to feel special.  But here I am, boldly stepping across the line, ready to finally proclaim my true feelings on the subject.

Ahem.  Can we just stop feeding each other’s kids already???

I’ve never been a huge fan of the birthday cupcake barrages at school, especially since both of my boys appear to be in classrooms where large portions of the population were born IN THE SAME WEEK or thereabouts, leading to these weird clusters of sugar pandemonium that I never would have considered even possible before experiencing them.  Between the January/February birthday cluster in L.’s class – compounded, of course, by the fact that he’s now old enough to ALSO be invited to all of these kids’ out-of-school parties – and the March birth-fest in P.’s class (of which he’s a member), there are entire chunks of time that J. and I regard with sinking dread each year.  We spend those weeks constantly checking our children for evidence of cupcake crumbs or icing smears, asking – perhaps too stridently – whether or not they’ve eaten any sweets at school, and trying to remember not to plan anything special for our family during that time that might inadvertently add to the dessert overload.  And our kids are only FIVE and THREE, for God’s sake.  I hereby declare it way too soon for this kind of cupcake paranoia.

However, despite my dislike of the annual icing escapades, I’ve never before felt a strong and urgent need to speak out against it.  Maybe I’m slow, or maybe (I prefer this viewpoint) I’ve been choosing my battles.  But this is where the change-of-mind thing comes in.  I’ve EVOLVED.  And in my evolutionary pride, I am here to say, in the famous words of my father: “Nothing’s a problem until it’s a problem.  And then there’s a problem.”

While you’re scratching your head over that one, allow me to illuminate:

P., we’ve discovered, is quite intolerant to artificial food dyes.  This is probably a turn of events that should not surprise me, given that this same child happens to be virulently allergic to most commercially available sunscreens.  But between the sunscreen and the food dyes, guess which has proven to be the bigger pain in the neck to manage?

OHMYGODTHESTUFFISINEVERYTHIIIIIIIIIING.  I knew that before, I swear I did.  Of course, being that our household is – and has been for a long time – pretty much free of all processed foods, I never had to actively think about it before.  But then some funny stuff started happening with P., and J. and I started doing some sleuthing, and, well…

The uncontrollable diarrhea after several classroom snacks at school?  Food dye.
The sudden, seemingly random fits of rage?  Food dye.
The weird, unexplained rashes around his mouth and on his hands and cheeks?  Food dye.
The night terrors?  Food dye.

We officially removed the stuff from his diet after a particularly harrowing experience at a birthday party, involving a red velvet cake covered in strawberry-red icing.  J. and I gulped as we let him eat it – but as horrible as it sounds, until that point in time, food dye was only our SUSPICION.  It killed us to do it, but we felt like we needed to make poor P. into a little science experiment with that red cake, just to see if we were right.  And boy, were we.

After all of the above symptoms manifested to one degree or another (despite the fact that P. had only eaten a small amount of the cake he was served), we decided it was time to stop guessing and firmly declare that he should have no more artificial dyes.  We’re happy with the decision – delighted, in fact – particularly given the fact that P.’s moods have evened out considerably since we got his school on board with our plan, and a diet free of dyes has helped our sweet, considerate, happy boy to be more like himself ALL the time.  No more reports from his teachers about an endless tantrum after the ice cream party, no more watching talkative, expressive P. go totally non-verbal after eating gummy bears.

But this week was the birthday cluster in his classroom.  Want to know what happened?

Day One.  Family brings in store-bought cupcakes covered in artificially dyed decorations.  Somebody must have forgotten the new dye-free diet for P.  He eats one.  We suffer later.
Day Two. Family brings in all-natural, vegan cupcakes.  Their dairy-free daughter can eat them.  P. can eat them.  Many of the other children can eat them.  The gluten-free child in the class cannot eat them.
Day Three.  I get special permission to bring in a homemade snack for P. and the other kids.  (One reason I always try for this arrangement is that the other parents have to sign a form, so I know they’re aware of what their kids will be eating.)  When I show up with chocolate cookie bowls and fresh fruit (the compromise P. and I chose to avoid adding too much junk into the week), the teachers have to ask me lots of questions about the ingredients because other families need to know about milk, gluten, eggs, etc.  P. and most of his friends end up eating the cookie bowls and the fruit.  At least one child can’t eat the snack because her family isn’t comfortable with the ingredients.
Day Four.  Family brings in store-bought cupcakes laden with dyes.  P.’s teachers give him a bowl of popcorn (his favorite snack) instead.  P. is surprisingly agreeable to this arrangement.   He does not eat the cupcakes.  The dairy-free child does not eat the cupcakes.  The gluten-free child does not eat the cupcakes.
Day Five.  I receive an email from the school’s director asking me if they can make P. something else for snack (they don’t have any more of the popcorn from our home, but they have some things in the staff room that might work for him).  Today’s birthday family has brought in cupcakes.  The teachers don’t have enough information about the ingredients, for whatever reason, to feel comfortable feeding them to P.  P. does not eat the cupcakes.  The dairy-free child does not eat the cupcakes.  The gluten-free child does not eat the cupcakes.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

If it were just my kid – FINE.  I’ve said many times that my kids are not special snowflakes around whom I want the world to revolve; if it were just that P. had some weirdo allergy and couldn’t eat the snacks, I MIGHT let it all pass.  I’d have to buy stock in popcorn, apparently…but maybe I’d let it pass.

But it’s not just my kid.  This isn’t a “special snowflake” situation.  This is a situation in which at least THREE little ones – fully one-quarter of the population —  in one classroom are being excluded at any given time because, quite frankly, there is almost no good solution to a food-based birthday snack that will please everyone, cater to everyone’s individual dietary needs, and not cause the parent providing said snack to lose his or her everloving mind.  (And don’t tell me “fruit.”  Yes, that would please MOST children, but remember I also parent a child with a sensory issue, and fruit is his nemesis.  He also has a friend who’s highly allergic to some fruits.  Not to mention the fact that while fruit is delicious, it’s hardly what most little children have in mind when they think of a special birthday treat to share with friends.)

In the past two weeks, I’ve baked a dye-free snack so P. wouldn’t be totally left out of the heinous sugar-splosion that is mid-March in his school; spent hours searching the internet so I could purchase a case of naturally dyed froot loop substitutes for a project in his classroom; been in near-constant contact with the staff at the school to monitor the dye situation; and now, I’m trying to figure out how to provide a naturally dyed green Jell-O alternative for another project that’s happening next week.  I’d like to say I don’t mind, but the truth is, I felt crappy about the fact that some of the kids couldn’t eat the snack I baked because of their food allergies; I felt like $20 and a whole bunch of effort was a little too much to have spent on making sure the froot loop necklaces didn’t derail my kid; I love the school staff, but I’d rather talk to them about OTHER things related to my child’s education once in a while; and the green Jell-O thing may just push me totally over the edge.  And I bet the dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free families feel the same way sometimes.

You know what would be a lot less difficult for pretty much everyone involved?  Don’t let anybody feed anybody else’s kids.

That means no more birthday snacks from parents, no more food-based craft activities…heck, I’d even be happy to see the school make the decision to stop offering snacks, full stop.  They could use the money I’m sure they’re taking from our tuition checks to buy snacks, and use it to bring in more of the awesome special events the kids love.  Or to buy more art supplies.  Or to give bonuses to the amazing teachers.  I wouldn’t care.  And then I, and all the other parents, could take an extra 5 or 10 minutes each morning to pack up two snacks to send off to school with my kid, and I’d never have to worry about what somebody else was potentially going to feed him when I wasn’t around.

I’m telling you.  This is an evolution for me.  I never cared about the stupid froot loop necklaces before – not so much that they were even on my radar of battles to fight.  But now I’ve had a chance to walk in the shoes of the “allergy parents” for a change, and let me tell you, these boots were apparently made for walking up and down EVERY SINGLE FREAKING AISLE to find the “safe” replacements for the stuff the other kids are eating.  Dear Zappos: I want my money back.

The intolerance P. has to food dyes will probably not kill him, so in that respect, J. and I are the lucky ones; we hate seeing him suffer when he goes totally off the rails after a food dye incident, and we certainly hate having to PARENT through all that rage and discomfort, but we don’t have to worry that it’s going to do any lasting harm to him if he accidentally eats some M and Ms.  It shouldn’t matter, though.  Whether a child’s allergy is life-threatening, or merely inconvenient; whether a parent doesn’t want his or her child to eat the “special” snack because of a documented health concern, or simply because it’s junk; no one of those concerns is any less legitimate than any other.  As parents, we should have the ultimate right to feed our kids.  When someone else does that without our presence and knowledge, it’s just not okay.  Not in today’s world, which is so vastly removed from the misty Betty Crocker nostalgia days posts like these often evoke in readers who cherish the memories of birthday cupcakes in schools.

I’m out of steam.  But I can take it – tell me what you think about all of this sharing food at school business.  Am I just being extra-cranky because my kid’s suddenly part of the “dietary concerns” group?  Or does it really seem to be increasingly necessary to leave the feeding of children in the hands of their parents, and save the shared treats for out-of-school celebrations where the parents and kids have more flexibility about how, and whether, to participate?

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40 Responses to When Enough is Enough

  1. Pingback: DF, GF, CF, WTF? | Red, Round, or Green

  2. Thank you for so eloquently putting my thoughts into your words. I agree with every word you wrote and have been trying get food out of the classroom for years (I have an 11 and 8 year old-I started this battle 6 years ago.) It’s getting better but no where near where it should be. It’s just nice to know that we are not alone and many others feel the same way. I will repost this on my FB group page (Parents for Better Food in Brighton Schools). Thank you.

    • Hi Adrienne! Thanks for commenting! I am simultaneously impressed and mildly terrified that you’ve been slogging away at this for 6 years. You’re right, though — it IS getting better, due in part to perseverance by parents like yourself! Thanks for reposting. Shares mean a lot.

  3. Amy says:

    I don’t have kids, and I may never have them. This (a small) part of the reason: it just seems so impossible to parent these days. I wouldn’t want anyone else having to be responsible for my child, but it also means that I don’t want anyone else interfering with my parenting responsibility. Gosh there is so much more to say but already say much of what I believe quite eloquently, so why restate.

    • Thanks for commenting, Amy! It is a balancing act, not wanting to make my kids “special snowflakes” and make others responsible for their well-being, while still retaining autonomy. But as I see it — schools ARE responsible for their well-being. For EVERY child’s well-being. And shared sweets, frankly, are not a part of the well-being of our children. So they simply don’t belong.

  4. preschool teacher says:

    I am a preschool teacher and there are always a variety of food restrictions across my classroom. We do not allow birthday treats, but do allow a variety of foods in conjunction with cultural celebrations, social studies and cooking projects. I encourage parents to bring in a bag of treats, most often homemade, that would be special to their child (like mini muffins or cookies) and I label and freeze them. We always have something safe on hand to pull out, and the families aren’t scrambling to the store the night before we have food in the classroom to find a substitute snack. This works really well. Hang in there!

  5. Stacey says:

    I so agree with you…let’s get the food out of our classrooms! It’s really sad to see children being excluded, and even tho they still get a treat, it’s not the same. There are so many ways to celebrate special events in the classroom without using food. We recently listed 40 ways at http://peanutfreezone.com/2012/02/10/30-classroom-ideas-for-allergy-friendly-celebrations/
    Thanks for writing the article..and for taking a stand!

    • Thanks for the great link, Stacey! Wonderful ideas! And frankly…it’s not even just about allergies, though that’s reason enough. Junk food isn’t good for ANYONE. Why make it part of the school day?

  6. Kirsty says:

    I am so on board. Why not buy a book for the classroom as a celebration or how about just sing happy birthday. I am so tired of having to justify tO My kids school that I want them to eat what i send them. Period! Nothing else!

  7. Uly says:

    I concur. There are other ways to make birthdays special, and few people seem to even consider them because they’re so caught up in the cupcake culture.

    Why not bring in books and a gift for the classroom like more art supplies? Or have a birthday ring (a wooden ring you can decorate like a cake and light candles on) instead of a cake in school? Or play games in the classroom for an extra 15 minutes?

    • Claire says:

      As a teacher I hate juggling snacks and parents. Luckily I work with older kids who don’t always bring them in. That said right now my biggest issue is time and energy spend on said snack and away from my teaching time. After all soon my pay will be linked to how well your kid does in school, so no thanks, I’d rather teach them than give them extra recess, snacks, or anything else.

      • Uly says:

        Oh, I don’t know, Claire. Recess is correlated with higher test scores, after all.

      • So true, Claire — the loss of instructional time is a big issue, especially in older grades. Obviously for my kids, in preschool, it’s no big deal; but when we’re at a point in our education system where many schools don’t even allow gym, recess, or music and art classes because they need to “teach for the tests,” it seems just downright ludicrous to me that we’d have parents fighting for the right to bring SNACKS. Seriously? You want to waste time on cupcakes, but you won’t fight for recess? Boggles the mind.

    • I love the ideas for alternative celebrations. Books, art supplies, even just stickers would be great. Letting the birthday child have a special job or privilege at school, or letting the class play a game together at the end of the day…so many things could be done. OR, frankly, nothing! Nothing would be okay in many cases, since so many kids are getting cake and presents with friends and family outside of school. A birthday does not have to be a coronation.

  8. Jennifer says:

    I’m with you. Red 40 has been pulled from my five year old’s diet. However, on Valentines day, I had to take her home from school because it was just too much after consuming all things red. I get so frustrated that peanut allergies are taken seriously, but many think of food dye allergies as some ‘granola’ crazy mom thing (which couldn’t be further from my reality) thanks so much for sharing this.

    • Oh, that’s awful — having to take your child out of school on what should be a fun day because it’s too hard to navigate all the junk. You’re right that people take other allergies much more seriously than they take food dyes. I get a lot of skeptical looks now that I’m telling people about our experiences. In some ways, I felt lucky that his teachers had to clean up the messy results of his gastrointestinal reactions to food dye on more than one occasion, because that seemed like the thing that really got their attention and helped them to realize that this is no joke.

  9. I couldn’t agree with you more. As a teacher, I feel anxiety over food being brought into the school. We have a large school and many students with allergies. We also have a snack program that parents can opt in and students with a food intolerance are provided an alternative that is mutually agreed upon. But when treats are brought in for a child’s birthday, sometimes parents are not aware of it and the teacher will have to call those parents and obtain permission to offer the child the treat. At one school, I remember that parents were given a list of snacks that are acceptable and those that are not but products are constantly changing their ingredients so I hardly find that list reassuring. I’m with you on this one: Let’s stop feeding everyone else’ kids.

    • I’m glad to hear from a teacher who’s experienced the challenges of having to call and get permission, etc.! It does seem like a lot of effort to put forth on the part of the school staff in order to allow something so unnecessary to the entire school day. Alternative types of celebrations, without food, seem like just as good a way to make a child feel “special” — if that’s even necessary at school at all. So many of us are able to give our children at least a modest birthday party with a few friends…why not leave it at that?

  10. April says:

    I started thinking about the issue of food in schools yesterday after watching Anderson. It was about a boy who has a rare disease and can’t eat anything so is fed through a stomach tube a special formula. He wakes to the sound of the school bus, wishing he could go, but can’t because of this exact issue. Even it being brought up, parents still insisted on allowing the snacks and things. So they have to homeschool him. His condition is so bad that just the smells can affect him so they don’t even cook in their home (but rather on a grill outside). I have several friends with children that have allergies and tolerances to a variety of things and I am so blessed to be able to say my 2 girls don’t suffer from anything. This, combined with Anderson has totally got me thinking. It’s been the norm in my mind for the cupcakes and things for birthdays or holiday parties but now I wish it wasn’t. If it wasn’t, then maybe one of my friends in particular could relax a little but she constantly has to be on high alert because of her daughters allergies.
    thank you for this awesome post.

    • I’m so happy that this post, along with some other things you’ve heard and seen recently, have you thinking about change! It just puzzles me so much when something simple — like just keeping sweets and treats at home, out of the school environment — causes so much controversy among parents. I find that there are plenty of opportunities at night and on weekends to feed my kids treats, and I’d feel better about taking advantage of those opportunities if I weren’t constantly measuring in my head the amount of junk they’d been given throughout the week without my knowledge. It’s sad to me to think of kids like the one you’re talking about — kids with E.E. or other very serious disorders — whose needs are just not considered to be as important as the “right” of the other children to eat sugar freely.

  11. Becky S says:

    This is a really tricky road to navigate. If it were only about food, it might be easier but there are so many kids with different issues that it is getting harder and harder to cater to them all. Personally, I’m a pleaser, I like to make everyone happy. I coordinate the enrichment programs at my daughter’s school and this year has been especially challenging. We have one student who is severely allergic to fur and feathers. Unfortunately, animals and their habitats are a huge part of school curriculum. For the past 12 years a program called “Eyes on Owls” brings their beautiful rescue owls to the school. The program is amazing. We thought about cancelling it this year along with the owl pellet dissecting class that goes with it but when we looked at what else was available, we realized that this particular grade has seen altered versions of every animal enrichment program from kindergarten to fifth grade. This limits them to reptiles. We also have another program that the children and staff love called “Amazing Hero Art”. This artist brings a message to kids that they can do anything and be anything. He creates giant works of art that look like nothing until he steps back, turns it upside down and suddenly you see Martin Luther King. He show also includes LOUD music and a stobe light. Ahhhh…not such a good time for kids that have a hard time with loud noises and flashing lights and we have a few at school. When do you decide, across the board that a change has to be made to the many for the few? While there are 3 children in your son’s class with food allergies/sensitivities, I’m guessing a ban on food celebrations would effect the whole school. Don’t get me wrong, my daughter’s school does not allow special birthday snacks. Everyone brings in their own snacks and all snacks in the peanut free room are checked by the nurse. Years ago when they did have food celebrations, my friend, who’s daughter has a severe nut allergy had worked out with the teacher that a note would come home the day before, letting her know that a “special” snack would be coming in. That night she would take a nut-free cupcake from her stash in the freezer, frost it in the morning and send it to school in a chinese take-out box. Her belief was that the allergy belonged to her daughter and not all the other kids in the class. I guess my point is there are so many issues for kids today, the list is endless. Do you cancel the trip to Boston because 3 kids have severe motion sickness? If we take away all the triggers for every child what would be left?

    • Hi Becky! I’m so happy that you left this comment, because it gives another perspective, and gives me the chance to address the “how far does it go” aspect. What i would say to your concerns:
      1) The “Eyes on Owls” program has positive educational value for the majority of students. The student who is allergic may not be able to participate, but can receive enrichment in the subject in another way. In this case, the good of the many outweighs the concern of the few (or one). Snacks provided by parents or by the school as “special treats” have no positive value, educationally or nutritionally, and therefore there IS no “good of the many” involved in providing them. They’re just for “fun.”
      2) The “Amazing Hero Art” show sounds great. And as the parent of a kid with sensory challenges, I can sympathize with the loud noises/strobe light concern. I would NEVER want that show to be eliminated from the school because of my child. I would want my child to figure out a way to participate if possible (with accommodations that I could work out with the teacher, without compromising the show in any way), or I would help my child to understand that it’s just not an opportunity he’s ready for, and work out another thing for him to do during that time. Again, the good of the many outweighs the concerns of the few on this one. And again, it’s not comparable to a non-educational, non-nutritive, unnecessary food item being served without parental oversight.
      3) A ban on food celebrations WOULD affect the whole school. In a good way, frankly. No one would be harmed in any way by removing cupcakes and candy from school, where they don’t frankly belong in the first place. These things aren’t good for ANYBODY. There’s a reason they’re called junk food. So do you hurt anyone by taking them out of school and leaving them at home? Nope. It’s not like kids can’t get cupcakes outside of school. (But they CAN’T get the owl show, the art show, or the Boston trip.) I do believe that kids’ allergies belong to them and their families, not the whole school, so in the respect that your friend didn’t want nut allergy accommodations made…I agree. But I agree in this way: Don’t tell me what i can and can’t pack for MY CHILD. And I won’t tell you what you can and can’t pack for yours. The issue is, I don’t want someone else to be responsible for my kid’s allergy — and I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else’s kids allergy — so why not stop feeding other people’s kids and just worry about our own? There’s a difference between making a policy like “no nuts in anyone’s lunch” (making everyone own your kid’s allergy, from some people’s points of view) and making a policy that no one may bring in food to be shared, but can pack whatever they want for their own children (letting each person deal in their own way with allergies, etc.) I think it’s a really important distinction.
      Thanks for commenting!

      • tinako says:

        I agree it’s useful to consider this point of view, with all of the other issues (fur allergies, etc.) and ask “where does it stop?” However, this is the “slippery slope” argument, and there’s a big problem with that argument in general, in that it can be applied to any issue. Name any reasonable rule, and I can make up a slippery slope argument to make it appear like it could be taken too far. Example: “No running over pedestrians in the street with your car.” Slippery slope response: “What, next you’ll tell us it’s illegal to hit a squirrel or a bug. Everyone will be guilty.” The point is, the slippery slope argument assumes that at each new case, we will mindlessly apply the current ruling to the next, without exactly the consideration, discussion, and wisdom we’re bringing right now. Let’s not do that.
        So you raise important points for future consideration, but they aren’t really a reason not to act on what is clearly a problem for a lot of kids.

        Thank you, red, for an eloquent post. For years I have heard parents upset that someone is trying to infringe on their right to provide the birthday snacks their child asks for, and I have been responding, “Strangers are feeding my children – what about my parental rights and responsibilities to ensure my children’s health and well-being?” Our schools have so far turned a deaf ear to this argument – I’m hopeful that with enough of us saying it, they will have to listen.

      • Thanks, Tinako, for visiting and commenting! You make an interesting argument in talking about the “slippery slope.” I think what resonates with me most about your comment is where you say that this kind of thinking assumes that we will never apply common sense to individual situations.
        Your point, too, about parental responsibility for the health and well-being of children is well-taken. I’ve mentioned many times, here on the blog and elsewhere, that one of my children has a struggle with his weight. It frustrates me no end that if he were to become dangerously obese (instead of just borderline overweight) after a childhood spent eating sweets provided by others, the first fingers pointed would be in my direction; and if his brother, allergic to the ingredients in those sweets, were to have behavioral issues that impacted others in his classroom, I’d be asked why I can’t control my child. It truly takes a village to care for the best interests of all children, and this is only one small example of the ways in which we are all falling short in providing that village.

  12. MFT says:

    I agree, wholeheartedly. Thankfully, we generally do not have this concen. We live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Our daughter has attended 2 different schools here, and in both of them, we are prohibited from sending food for other children. I believe it is a good policy. HOWEVER, there is a parallel policy, which restricts what we are allowed to send in our daughter’s lunch box. This is where I get frustrated. I understand and fully support prohibitions based on allergies othe children have. But when I put a treat in my child’s lunch and am told she was not allowed to eat it because it was not considered a healthy snack, that pisses me off. We eat very few sweets and junk food in our family. If my daughter has finished all of her healthy lunches and suppers in a week and I want to reward her by giving her Dora gummies in her lunch on Friday, that should be MY PREROGATIVE! So I do get frustrated about the school telling me what I can feed my own kid. But I definitely support the “don’t feed othe people’s kids” policy (I calculate what and when I will give my child as a treat very carefully as we get treated to a defiant “Sugar Baby” if it is not done right). Thanks for this blog post! You have hit the nail on the head and I hope the policy does change where you are!

    • Wow. Policies that deal with the “health” factor of what a parent sends for his/her child do disturb me, I have to say. First of all, there are so many misguided opinions out there about what constitutes “healthy” — so many people think it’s just about calories, or fat grams, or…something. We’re not all on the same page in that regard, for certain. Secondly, I do think there’s a degree of overreaching that happens when schools try to police what goes on in a child’s home-packed lunch. You are correct that it’s the parent’s prerogative to make the decision about what goes into the child’s lunch, and as much as I may not like it that another parent sends only fast food or junk for their child’s meals, it’s none of my business. I don’t think change can be made, or positive impact can be made, by trying to be good cop-bad cop about the food parents choose to send. I think it’s better to try to educate and empower people, and if you still don’t see them making the choices you want them to…you have led the horse to water. Ultimately, the raising and feeding of our children is up to us.

  13. Vanessa says:

    You are right. I agree 100%. But I doubt it will ever happen. There are too many parents with no time or desire or interest in dealing with it. 😦

    • Hi Vanessa — thanks for commenting! I doubt it will happen QUICKLY and EVERYWHERE. You’re right that there are too many parents who do not consider this a priority, or who just plain don’t understand why it’s a problem. But i do think that there are more and more people who are becoming concerned about the state of food and childhood nutrition, and if we all continue to raise awareness and advocate in our own communities, I think we can make changes.

  14. Shelly says:

    Thank you! You hit the nail on the head.

  15. Anonymous says:

    We were getting so much candy from school we started a candy jar at our house…when the jar is full of candy my daughter gets $5. Then, we throw the candy away! We have filled up three jars since January!! It was getting ridiculous & I had to come up with a solution. We have been working hard to not have processed food in our house & the school is my biggest battle!! Between birthday cupcakes & surprise parties to celebrate behavior, I’m about to lose it too! There are plenty of different ways to celebrate special occasions without food!!

    • I agree — plenty of ways to celebrate that don’t involve food! And believe me, I like a special meal or dessert as much as anyone. I just think if you do it too often, it’s not special anymore. Thanks for commenting!

    • Uly says:

      If you don’t like throwing away the candy, you can send it to soldiers overseas. There are a number of programs that manage this, just google it! I hate throwing out “good food”, even when it’s not, and soldiers are adults with free dental care, so I’m… okay with this.

      Or you could use the candy to do science experiments. Again, google it 🙂

  16. Justin says:

    I’m thinking homemade kiwi jello. 🙂

  17. Alissa says:

    AMEN!!! Seriously, I think we are on the same evolutionary path…the more I think and read and think some more about these issues, the more I come to exactly the same conclusion – please stop feeding my kid! As you outlined, there are so many preferences that parents have about what their children eat, whether it be allergies, sensitivities, religious, cultural, or nutrition based, it just seems like a no-brainer that we should all be responsible for feeding only our own kids. I am baffled by the cupcake argument that since some parents want them in school and some don’t, status quo (i.e., lots of cupcakes) wins. Why shouldn’t it be that the parents who want their kids to have cupcakes (or whatever other food is in question) feed their kids those foods outside of school, or even in their own kids’ lunchboxes, and leave the rest of us out of that decision? But the question I’m really struggling with is how to convince the rest of the community what seems to me to be so incredibly obvious and simple…thoughts anyone??

    • Alissa — so true about religious/cultural preferences, etc. as part of the package with what kids eat. Your point is well taken: We just never know what somebody else bases their food values on, and it’s not our business to know. I hope people do respond to your comment with lots of wisdom about how to handle these matters, because I think of it as being so simple, too, that I sometimes have a hard time seeing the other side. In my mind, as you say, those who want in-school treats should have them — without also making my child a potential participant. If you want something for your kid, provide it. If you don’t want something for your kid, no one else should be providing it. It seems clear to me. And maybe BECAUSE it’s so clear, it is hard for me to figure out how else to be persuasive.

  18. Competitive/Contemplative says:

    I’m so there! People wanting to send birthday treats to rehearsals seems to have died down at my job but it makes me batty because it’s also a huge waste of time, as well as a food allergy nightmare.

    Side note – as I’m weaning myself off of HFCS, I’ve realized how intolerant my body is of it – when I have it in any quantity, my tummy rebels pretty violently. Which makes me wonder how much happier I’ll be when I cut it out completely. Sure you’re feeling much the same about P and the food dyes!

    • Yeah, it’s shocking to us how much his body reacts to the chemical stuff — we actually have a slight suspicion that some common preservatives may be tied up in this whole mess, too, but for now going dye-free is working wonders for him. I have heard of others having major issues with HFCS, so it’s interesting to me that you’re seeing such a reaction in your own body. Good for you for cutting it out and recognizing its effects! We’ve been free of that one for so long (it was the first thing we got rid of, waaaaayyyy back when) that I sometimes almost forget…but I noticed something relatively frightening in my own self that I will hopefully post about one day, and I think it’s related to HFCS. Nasty stuff!

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