The mom of a toddler was surprised and angry when her son’s school sent back some of the lunch she packed for her two-year-old because it was “too unhealthy”. There’s been a big push for schools to reduce the amount of sugar, fat and other ingredients in school lunches in an attempt to improve kids’ health.
But this preschool might have gone too far.
“‘I sent my 2.5 yr old son to school with this and the cookies got sent home because they’re unhealthy,” the mom wrote. “There was 3 MINI cookies.”
The comment was in response to a Plymouth Live story in which teachers revealed the most unhealthy lunches they had seen their students bring to school. Cornwall Live posted the story on Facebook and asked readers to give their own examples of terrible school lunches they had seen.
Laura Lee went in a different direction, posting a photo of the preschool school lunch she had sent with her toddler:
To most, this lunch might seem pretty good. It includes cucumber slices with the centers cut out into cute little flower shapes, two other vegetables, fruit, protein and carbs. All in all, a well rounded meal!
As long as the toddler ate some of the rest of the lunch, three small cookies shouldn’t be a big deal. But the preschool wouldn’t allow Lee’s son to eat the cookies and sent them home with the claim they were “unhealthy.” Does the school allow any sweet treats?
Parents and commenters replied to Laura Lee expressing their shock that the school would send the lunch back because it was unhealthy.
“I work in a nursery and believe me, I have seen some terrible packed lunches in the past!” wrote one commenter. “This looks perfect to me!”
“Looks like you took time and effort to his lunch ‘fun’ and appealing,” wrote Susan McGowan. “Absolute rubbish that he wasn’t allowed to get those small cookies. Everything in moderation surely.”
Others shared their own tales of schools sending back parts of a lunch.
“That looks great and well balanced,” wrote one commenter. “My son’s drink got sent home because it was fizzy, it was sparkling water.”
Others pointed out that the meals provided by schools are often far less balanced than the one Laura packed.
“Amazing, when a child’s free school lunch can have a syrup sponge and custard for a pudding,” Stephanie Hughes wrote.
In the US and abroad, there’s currently a big movement to get kids to eat healthier at home and at school. This comes after decades of kid-focused advertising selling sugary and highly processed snacks.
Schools have responded by encouraging kids and their parents to pack healthy lunches and trying to provide more vegetables and other nutritious options in school-provided meals. Some schools have taken extra steps by checking what’s in parent-packed lunches and banning certain foods.
The school district for Richmond, Missouri, banned all fast food on school premises. Some parents thought the school district went too far when it did this.
“I thought it was overstepping at its finest,” one father of five said. “It’s up to parents what their children eat.”
Other schools have banned specific foods, like nuts, out of concern for children with severe allergies. Anaphylaxis is one thing; but a few small, nut-free cookies seem pretty safe.
Laura still doesn’t know what the school might send home next time.
“I packed a vegan bar yesterday that’s made of dates, Raisins and nuts but looked like chocolate,” she commented. “Expected that to come back in a bag too.”
Laura’s story made its way around the internet, and garnered a number of comments from frustrated parents.
“Schools should concentrate on teaching and not being the lunch box police,” wrote one commenter. “No good being skinny fit but finish school knowing nothing.”
Others say they understand the school’s decision.
“I think parents often forget their child is not the only one in the school, and rules are implemented to make everything work as well as possible,” an anonymous commenter wrote. “Even the pack lunch pictured is carb heavy and even the most foody of our children would leave half.”
Of course, Laura’s lunch is still better than a cold McDonald’s Happy Meals or a bag of chips and a can of Red Bull. Those are some of the things teachers have seen in their students’ lunches. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Matt is a writer, editor, and content strategist currently based in Washington state. He has worked as a managing editor for the iconic I Can Has Cheezburger, Celebuzz (a SpinMedia site), and now Mamas Uncut. He also acted as the Social Media Director for CafeMom.
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