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Snacks in Kindergarten

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
Forgive me for the length of this post...I'm at a loss, and am looking for some advice.

DD5 started Kindergarten this year. The teacher sent home a note yesterday with a schedule for each child to bring in snacks for the whole class for snack time. (Once every four weeks.) One of the kids in the class has a peanut allergy, so she attached a sheet with "approved" snacks on it, including brand names.

I didn't think it would be that big of a deal, until I looked at the approved list. Marshmallows, Skittles, Oreos, Doritos/Lays Potato Chips/Pringles/Sun Chips/Ruffles, three different types of gum, Blow Pops, Fruit Loops....I couldn't believe it. The only thing on the list that I would even consider to be a "healthy snack" was graham crackers.

We are vegetarian, leaning toward the vegan side, but not completely. I also seriously limit processed foods (with the exception of some 'veganized' things like chik'n nuggets and vegan 'lunchmeat') and foods with artificial coloring. I talked it over with my boyfriend, and we decided that I'd just write a note to the teacher explaining how we eat, and asking that the snacks be in line with that. I wasn't so much going for VEGAN as I was for REMOTELY HEALTHY. (I wasn't going for rabbit food here - we even looked up all of the ingredients in all of the crap foods listed and I made her a list of the ones that could be considered vegan. I also offered to buy an air popper for popcorn for the classroom, since one of the things mentioned was microwave popcorn, and said that I obviously didn't expect that parents be required to buy the vegan version of Cheez-Its or anything like that.)

But really, not one fruit or vegetable on the ENTIRE list. I was floored. I teach my kids that foods like that are very occasional treats, and they are apparently going to eat snacks like this every day. I mean, how hard is it to buy a bag of apples?

I sent the note with her to school, and the teacher called me during lunch time. She said that I should send DD with her own snack every day, since all of the snacks that are sent in go into a big box, and the kids get to choose what they want from the box.

Again, how hard would it be to get a big bowl and fill it with fruit? I have no issues sending in raisins, or celery sticks filled with sunbutter or carrot sticks with some kind of dip, or whatever.

In theory, I understand where she's coming from. But the child with the peanut allergy isn't being told to bring in his own snacks. (Yes, I get that he can't be around peanuts at all, and I don't have ANY problem working around an allergy. But I don't consider Twizzlers and Oreos working around an allergy.) How am I supposed to explain to my 5 year old that she can't eat the Skittles and M&Ms that all of her friends get to eat, and they get to choose from the magic box of junk food every day?

I'm thinking about going to the principal (isn't the whole new "fad" to get this junk out of schools anyway?), but don't want to be a troublemaker the first week of school. Although I'm sure the teacher already has me pegged as "that mom", and I don't really care about that, honestly. If I say/do nothing, I feel like I'm teaching my 5 year old that chips and candy are every day snacks, not to mention the fact that I am the one that has to put up with the behavior that comes after she eats things loaded with sugar and artificial coloring.

post #2 of 37
Lots of schools have rules about home made treats. Along with spoilage of course.

I'm with you, the amount of crap they hand out at school is ridiculous. I'd send her own snack and talk to the principal. But you may meet some resistance.
post #3 of 37
In the process of protecting the kids with "allergies", nutrition is left behind. I've been dealing with this for the 6th year now at dd's school. Dd can't have the approved "junk" that the allergy kids can have because she has horrible food intolerances causing eczema, sleep problems, headaches. I simply provide her food individually. She has never had a problem with eating differently than her peers. By the age of 5 she understood why. Just tell your dd that this is not the way you eat, for health reasons, and she'll have a special snack everyday, homemade with love.
post #4 of 37
In the process of protecting the kids with "allergies", nutrition is left behind. I've been dealing with this for the 6th year now at dd's school. Dd can't have the approved "junk" that the allergy kids can have because she has horrible food intolerances causing eczema, sleep problems, headaches. I simply provide her food individually. She has never had a problem with eating differently than her peers. By the age of 5 she understood why. Just tell your dd that this is not the way you eat, for health reasons, and she'll have a special snack everyday, homemade with love.
YEA to all that-----send your own snack and voice a complaint about the "approved" list to who ever will hear you

lots of schools are taking out "JUNK" I would let your PTO know as well
post #5 of 37
We went through this last year, though not nearly so extreme. One thing I did do was insist dd came home for lunch and she will again this year. It's one way I can limit what she's exposed to and I'm not ready for her to be "in the frey" yet. She wants to come home, thankfully.

At dd's school they have what's called "smart snack." They do have things like apples sometimes, but it's often yogurt tubes and "fruit" popsicles and such. Dd had never had a yogurt tube before then. What is considered "healthy" by school standards is my "very occasional, push-the-limits" treat food. But I did sign her up for it and just talked to her about how to make the best choices, because she wanted to be part of the snack program. I did find that after a few months, she was choosing fruit over yogurt tubes, mostly. Her teacher actually commented on her healthy choices.

However, in your case it really doesn't sound like there ARE healthy choices. Wow. I personally would get active on this and keep on and on about it. I became "that parent" pretty early on and in my experience, it's better to just get it over with. Did you ask if you COULD bring fruit in on your day? I'd be inclined to sign up, even if you are sending your dd her own snacks. I found dd really liked it when I brought food to class parties and such, even when what I brought was different than what the other parents brought. It at least makes the point and lets the kids see that there are other possibilities.

In your shoes, I think I would send your dd's food in. That would just be more than I could handle, junk wise and I think I've tried to be maybe even too lenient. I think velochic's message of "special, homemade with love" is awesome. But I would not give up on trying to get the candy out of your dd's school.
post #6 of 37
That's awful. I was in classrooms for 4 years in college and taught for a year and I have never seen candy on a snack list. There's usually chips/fruit snacks/graham crackers/fruit listed on there. Most of the schools I've been in schools where snacks had to be at least semi healthy and candy was a huge no.

I would definitely take it up with PTA/PTO/whatever it is by you. I've seen great things happen with that, including schools starting a wellness committee, school run vegetable garden and guidelines for healthy every day snacks.
post #7 of 37
Holy WOW. That's just incredible.

Yeah, I would definitely discuss it with whomever would listen, and if the teacher isn't receptive, I might wait a bit and then talk to some other folks about it. I'd do it in a very non-blaming, positive way though, obviously.

I feel bad that your daughter will feel like the odd one out. I'm packing my daughter's lunch for most of the school year this year as well (she just started preschool) because, while the school does provide a free lunch, it's sort of crap. Not the level of crap that you're experiencing, but just low quality, high carb/artificial junk food. But I hate that she is pretty much one of the only kids who packs her lunch and I know that she feels probably a little left out when the other kids open their glorious, matching styrofoam containers of chicken nuggets and she has carrots and hummus, cucumbers, olives, leftover chicken, etc. All of those are her favorites, but it's a novelty thing.
post #8 of 37
Thread Starter 
When I picked DD up from school today, I asked her how she'd feel about bringing in her own special snack for snack time. The response? "Does that mean tomorrow I can have STRAWBERRIES?!?!"

I wish there had been a camera in my car, so I could bring it into the school and say, "See? If you only offer them healthy stuff, they start to crave the healthy stuff!"

One of DS's daycare teachers has a Kindergartener in the same school, but a different teacher. I'm going to ask how their class is doing things. I want to be able to write an intelligent letter to the principal about it, and give her a shot at fixing it. If it's isolated to this teacher, that's one thing. If it's school wide, that's a whole other issue.

I don't think our PTO has a whole lot of pull with the school at all. In fact, I don't even know how to JOIN the PTO, if that gives you any indication. Heck, I still don't know what the dress code is at this school, because there's no information on it anywhere.

carfreemama - Because all the snacks go into a box, I doubt the fruit would get eaten. Or perhaps not even offered, because it would probably go bad if it sat in a box for days on end. I mean, even as much as my kid likes fruit, if the alternative is gummy snacks, I can predict that she wouldn't be choosing an apple.
post #9 of 37
Are you sure this wasn't the list of stuff NOT to send?
post #10 of 37
Originally Posted by Ammaarah View Post
Are you sure this wasn't the list of stuff NOT to send?

That's what I was thinking! I mean, what K teacher would want a bunch of kids hopped up on sugar and red dye...and gum? I thought it was banned in most elementary schools.

Also, if they did allow candy and junk-y snacks, why wouldn't they also include carrot sticks, celery, strawberries, apples, etc. on the approved list? It just seems odd to me, is all.

I'd definitely be saying something to the teacher - like, "really, lady? You think re-fueling already hyper kids with crap is conducive to sitting still and learning?"

About the homemade goods thing - As much as I'd love to stay up late baking a bunch of muffins for DS's kindy class, I understand why some parents aren't comfy with their kids eating food prepared in questionable kitchens. Not to mention the food allergy thing, and an absence of labels makes it harder to be sure which ingredients were used.
post #11 of 37

Since when is GUM even a SNACK? I thought a snack was a FOOD that made you not hungry and gave you energy to learn.....

Honestly, on the fresh fruit and veg thing, I think teachers are looking at the cost (I know some fresh stuff is inexpensive, but when you are talking about buying for 30....) They don't want people to feel like they have to go to a major expense to feed the class.

My son's class has the take-turns snackbox thing but as far as I know, the item that is sent on that day is the snack for that day, they either eat it or don't.

Our suggestions included graham crackers, other snack crackers, things like that. We were asked specifically NOT to bring things like frosted snack cakes, Oreos would probably be a no, other high sugar type things, you get the idea.

I can understand a ban on homemade treats given the peanut allergy, you just don't know about even accidental contact, or people who would think it's OK to use other nuts out of a bag of mixed nuts or something.

Another school I worked at before I had kids, the kids brought their own snacks and they just asked that it be healthy. Most kids at least did not bring high sugar stuff. Maybe that would be a possibility at your school, to switch to that policy? It would protect the peanut-allergic child from eating something with peanuts, and others could provide snacks as healthy as they like.
post #12 of 37
One of my boys was made to feel guilty about a chocolate pudding I sent in his lunch last year to a point where he wouldn't eat it. The schools here are really big on good nutrition. They're constantly sending home lists from the health unit on what to pack in the kids lunch, papers on the benefits of whole grains, lean and unprocessed meats & the importance of fruits and veggies being a primary source of food. Even little recipies on how kids can turn chickpeas into humus We also have a balanced lunch day which means the kids eat 2 lunches instead of one. Our school (in my opinion) has been very concerned with good nutrition... So this list you brought up is really very surprising to me given the fact that a pudding cup at the end of a really healthy lunch is "bad" in our school

Maybe have a talk in passing with the teacher about your concerns. I would personally stay away from preaching about the details of your ideal family diet and just say you have concerns about the list containing too much "junk" and not enough foods that you (and most people) would consider appropriate for children.
post #13 of 37
Are you sure that M&M's were on the list? Because they are NOT safe for a child with a peanut allergy.

I'm not sure why kids with allergies don't need protecting. Even a minor exposure can kill an allergic child. That doesn't mean that junk food is the answer. There are plenty of healthy nut-free options (as the OP is clearly aware ).

But this is yet another reason to homeschool my peanut allergic kids--parents who don't respect that my child's right to live trumps their right to send their kid to school with any old food they like. "Made with love" doesn't make it safe.
post #14 of 37
I also wonder if that is the DO NOT SEND list. First, M&M's are not safe for peanut allergies and second, I've never heard of a school that didn't have an outright ban on gum.
post #15 of 37
I feel your pain, and we are only in preschool. I was pretty annoyed last year when every day for snack at 9am the kids get cheezits, vanilla wafers, fruit loops, etc. None of the candy you mentioned, but still those are things that are occasional treats at our house. I totally agree that buying a bag of apples or a couple bunches of bananas would be reasonable. I wonder if you could offer to bring those every once in a while? At the very least, I would try to write up a list of reasonably healthy choices that the teacher could add to her list. And really, the letter probably ought to go to the principal, because I doubt every teacher makes up their own food list. You would have to check the boxes for the peanut allergy problem, but how about just plain 'ol cheerios instead of fruit loops?!?! Or even pretzels instead of GUM? Maybe type something up with a little blurb about how much easier HER job would be if the kids weren't hyped up on sugar and food dyes. I have no idea if those things I named fit into the vegan lifestyle, so if you you have more creative ideas then go for it! But if all else fails, I would really try to get your dd psyched about bringing her most favorite fantastic special treats...like STRAWBERRIES!
post #16 of 37
Originally Posted by elmh23 View Post
I also wonder if that is the DO NOT SEND list. First, M&M's are not safe for peanut allergies and second, I've never heard of a school that didn't have an outright ban on gum.
I was wondering the same thing. Seems like it would be a mighty unusual teacher who would want kids getting blowpop stickiness all over her classroom!
post #17 of 37
Thread Starter 
I'm going to scan in the list to prove it to you all. I guess the mom of the child with the allergy sent the teacher the list - which includes the specific brand names (the gum, for the record, is Bubble Yum, Double Bubble, and Juicy Fruit. Lollipops include dum dums and Charms Blow Pops.)

I wrote all over the list, but you'll still be able to read it.
post #18 of 37
I don't like to be "that mom" either, and I don't think I'd make a stink about marginal snacks. But you'd better believe I'd be talking to the teacher and the principal and whoever else if someone was planning to give my daughter that kind of snack EVERY DAY.

Once in a while at a birthday party or whatever, fine. But aside from the fact that those snacks aren't healthful in a long-term sense, my daughter reacts BADLY to that kind of sugar (and, I think, red dye, maybe--though my husband thinks it's just that foods with red dye also tend to have all that sugar, and he may be right). It would have a definite effect on her learning if she got those foods every day.
post #19 of 37
Holy Smokes! We got done with DS's new school orientation last night, and this was the first time I had heard about "snack week" and acceptable "snack lists".

Now I'm getting nervous about what I'll see as "suggested snacks" because everything Always listed is on our rarely/never in the house list and limited offerings with the kiddos.

I second everyone's approach about seeing if it can be altered to have a more healthy approach, and if not, principal & the PTA/PTO as there has to be other parents who are probably shocked by this!!
post #20 of 37
Subbing. I want to see this list.
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