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Would you get involved in this? (hungry kiddo)

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

My DDs are in a new Montessori charter school which opened this year.  They are part of a 1st-3rd  classroom of 18 children.  Because of some construction issues with the new school the cafeteria will not be ready until next year so we have to send the kids lunches every day.  My girls just shared with me that  most of the time, the mother of girls in their class does not pack her daughter's lunch, that if the Zoey wants lunch she has to pack it herself. According to my girls, Zoey eats a peanut butter sandwich and a package of cookies every day. If Zoey's mom does pack her lunch she sends plain bread and little else.  Zoey is dropped off at school by her mom every day so she isn't a kid has to get herself off to school.  Zoey also happens to have some special needs and it breaks my heart to think that she is getting so little.  I could see as they were telling me that our DDs (esp. the younger DD who is highly empathetic) also were troubled.  When I asked if Zoey seemed hungry they said that the teacher often gives Zoey extra snacks and portions of her own lunch.  

 

 

 

I do not know Zoey's mother.  I was thinking of approaching the teacher and just offering to help in any way I could, maybe send a daily portion of fruit  for Zoey.  I am well aware that there are lots of hungry kids in this country but I would like to help this one of I can.  On the other hand, I am worried that I am overstepping my bounds and should mind my own business.  Thoughts?

post #2 of 20

It sounds like a caring offer. I would probably phrase it in such as way as to avoid mentioning Zoey by name as she cannot discuss another student with you. I might just stop in and say that your girls had noticed that occasionally other students will have a less than ideal lunch and could you send in an extra portion for any student who might need it in any given day.

post #3 of 20

What i'd like to know is why the teacher who has first hand knowledge of this neglect is not talking to the mom or cps as she is a mandated reporter.

post #4 of 20

I would talk to the teacher.  You can always send a extra lunch to school and yes I would get involved in this.

post #5 of 20

Honestly, I'd stay out of it.  I'm sure the teacher is aware of what's going on and you have no idea what she/he is doing about it. 

 

All the parents, who can and want to, in my son's class send in something for snack time.  You might offer to organize that with the other parents.

post #6 of 20

I would be careful. You really don't know the whole story. My kids have packed their own lunches since kindergarten and despite the full pantry and vast choices, when they were little, they pretty much stuck to peanut butter sandwiches, banana and juice box. Even if I packed for them here and there, they wanted the same things. My DS has oral motor aversion which makes most foods gag him. He can eat a variety of things now but man, when he was that age... well, a very limited palate and a palate that didn't include most normal lunch options. I'm sure he would have taken extra cookies and snacks when offered (because he would stuff himself with empty sugary snacks to avoid having to come home and work on things like baby carrots, pastas, boiled eggs, lettuce, sliced cheese, ect.) What people didn't realize is that DS always ate a huge breakfast and a second lunch when he got home from school with healthy foods I could make fresh and encourage him to eat in a calm environment. 

 

If you want to donate a box of snacks "for the class" on a somewhat regular basis, that would be nice. It's OK to send your child with an extra baggy of fruit that she can share. I'd hold off getting too involved in this child's case at this point. 

post #7 of 20

If the information is coming solely from your dd's, you may not have the full picture.  I can well imagine that a child that age would be able to help pack their own lunch, and also have some feelings about what went into their lunch.  There may be food/oral aversions that other families aren't aware of.  There may be reasons for what's happening that you just aren't privy to.  My guess is that the teacher is aware.  My children's elem school keeps a stash of fresh fruit and crackers for use as needed.   A public school would have lunch/food available at low cost/free for those who qualify-I know that this is sometimes the most solid meal some kids get at school.  I am guessing your school, as a private school, does not have this.

 

You could offer to send in snacks for the class and see how that is received by the teacher or head of school.

 

Some kids really don't eat much at the school day meal.  I would be thrilled if one of mine ate a peanut butter sandwich at lunch-actually I'd be thrilled if I could send it in the first place, but I can't (no flaming please-we have nut allergies in the family so I am intimately aware of the issues).

post #8 of 20

A peanut butter sandwich and a packet of cookies doesn't seem like "so little" for a 1st-3rd grader.  It may not be very healthy, but I wouldn't call it a "little lunch".  Calorie wise, it seems pretty dense...you could easily be talking 600 calories (100 for each slice of bread, 200 for pb, and 200 for cookies) which seems plenty sufficient for a child of that age.  My 7-yo doesn't eat that much for lunch every day.   Heck, when I was in HIGH SCHOOL, I ate nothing more for lunch than a juice box and a bag of popcorn or chips or cookies (I wasn't the healthiest back then :bag).  I ate a big breakfast and a big snack after school and just didn't care to eat that much while in school. I didn't like sandwiches and didn't like the school lunches.   I still don't really care for "packed" lunches or eating on the go.  I much prefer eating hot food at home over eating cold sandwiches or something while out.

post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post

If the information is coming solely from your dd's, you may not have the full picture.   ... My guess is that the teacher is aware. 


If my child were concerned, I would mention it to the teacher so the teacher could monitor the situation and see if anything needed to be done. I would let my child know that I had done this.

 

We had a situation where my DD saw a little girl being subtly bullied and wasn't sure what to do, and wasn't sure if the teacher was aware. She and I stopped into the see the teacher after school and I told the teacher exactly what my DD had said, and the teacher's response was wonderful. He took over the conversation, said exactly what he knew, and that the school social worker, special ed teacher, and principle were all involved all ready. He explained the whole plan to my DD. It was great. I feel that doing this, while it didn't effect anything for the other kids because the adults already had it in hand, taught MY dd a powerful lesson about speaking up and about trust. I think it was more beneficial for her than if I had said "the teacher most likely knows, so just turn away."

 

post #10 of 20

I'd tell the teacher what your children have observed and perhaps ask if there's something you could do that wouldn't single out the child as someone who needs help. If it's a public school, aren't they responsible for providing free/reduced lunch for children who qualify?

 

The other thing is that I know that some Montessori schools suggest strongly that children pack their own lunch from a very early age. If Zoey went to a school like that previously, it could be that's the routine her mother's used to.

 

The pb every day doesn't bother me nearly as much as the plain bread and little else. That strikes me as possibly abusive. Ds had the exact same lunch every day for 2 years when in 1st and 2nd grade: 1/2 a pb&j sandwich (of which he ate maybe 1/3), goldfish crackers (he usually at about 20 of those) and an apple (he ate about 1/4 of that). That's it. Honestly, I don't know how he survived on so little food. But he's an introvert and is extremely sound sensitive and I think it was just impossible for him to eat more in a noisy cafeteria. That's part of  his mild special needs. So if Zoey has mild special needs, the repetitive lunch wouldn't freak me out. The fact that she seems hungry, and isn't bringing any fruit (or veggies) would.

post #11 of 20

I would offer to drop off lunch type snacks to the teacher, if she felt there was anyone in class that could use them. 

 

Food is a weird thing and you never know what is going on behind the scenes.  For the first few weeks of school my tiny 6 year old only ate some pretzels, no matter what I put in her lunch.  She just wasn't hungry because she was eating 4 sausages for breakfast and a muffin for snack.  Finally we got breakfast and snack balanced out and she eats her lunch now.

post #12 of 20

I would discuss the matter briefly with the teacher and ask if there was a need for a healthy snack bucket at school. That lunch sounds kind of pathetic to me but more or less average for a lot of kids that age.

 

I was supposed to make my lunch at that age and had the ingredients in the fridge but would often sneak home at lunch to heat up a can of soup.  When I did pack a lunch it was pretty lame and I always had a big snack later.

 

 

post #13 of 20

Feel free to mention it to the teacher but realize that you might not have the full picture and the teacher may not be able to share the full picture.  The child may be a picky eater and that's all she will eat. She may be on medication that diminishes her appetite.  My DD takes meds that means she is not at all hungry during the day.  I am sure that half of her classmates think she is neglected/hungry because of what is (or isn't) in her lunch each day.  But she doesn't eat until evening and I don't want to send food to be wasted just to make sure no one thinks I am neglecting her.  Her teacher and the school are aware of the situation though.  And my DS has fructose mal-absorption -- his body does not digest fructose.  He literally cannot eat fruit without gas/cramps/vomiting.  So his lunch never has fruit (or anything else with fructose) in it.  And I'm sure that some of his classmates think that is strange.  Again though, his teachers are aware of the situation.  Of course its also possible that the family is financially troubled and going without or that she is, in fact, neglected.  You probably will never know the full story.  But it would be a nice gesture to offer to help in a discreet way just in case there is an easy fix.

 

post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by minnowmomma View Post

What i'd like to know is why the teacher who has first hand knowledge of this neglect is not talking to the mom or cps as she is a mandated reporter.



I first would consider that the situation isn't exactly what the OP's daughter reports. I'm a mother with a child who has special needs related to food. You have no idea how much I fear some busybody thinking that the things we send him are nutritional neglect. I once watched an episode of Law & Order SVU in which a mom was vilified for nutritional neglect. The child's teacher said that he brought "nuts, raw vegetables, and protein shakes" to lunch. They thought it was neglect. That's what my son eats. It's a really rough position to know that others are judging the quality of your parenting based on a small snapshot that they see. In this case, the OP is getting information filtered from a young child. (That's not a slight against the OP's child - just a comment on the reliability of assuming parental & educator neglect based on the reports of a child about what someone brings for lunch.)

post #15 of 20

Not all public schools have to provide free/reduced lunch for qualifying students.  There are strict regulations about they type of kitchen, etc. And the school has to provide the lunch to *all the kids* (some pay for it, obviously) otherwise, if they provide food for only those who qualify the school will be violating these kids' civil rights.

 

I would be very careful.  I would just ask the teacher if it would be helpful to provide the class with some snacks--fresh fruit/veggies.  Maybe you can communicate with other parents and see if they can pitch in, too. 

 

If you kids would like to share with their friend, why not just have them pack and extra fruit and they can offer it to their friend--that way, it won't humiliate Zoey, yk? 

post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post



I first would consider that the situation isn't exactly what the OP's daughter reports. I'm a mother with a child who has special needs related to food. You have no idea how much I fear some busybody thinking that the things we send him are nutritional neglect. I once watched an episode of Law & Order SVU in which a mom was vilified for nutritional neglect. The child's teacher said that he brought "nuts, raw vegetables, and protein shakes" to lunch. They thought it was neglect. That's what my son eats. It's a really rough position to know that others are judging the quality of your parenting based on a small snapshot that they see. In this case, the OP is getting information filtered from a young child. (That's not a slight against the OP's child - just a comment on the reliability of assuming parental & educator neglect based on the reports of a child about what someone brings for lunch.)


I totally agree with this. 

 

post #17 of 20

Parents must apply for free and reduced lunch; the school does not have a say so in who gets it. We get the list of who is eligible once the parents apply.

 

Public schools are part of the federal lunch program; I have never heard of one that is not. They like to be because it gives them money.

 

My kids went to Catholic elementary school and they were part of it as well; the high school my kids attend is not. (Catholic as well).

 

I also agree that your kids may not know the whole story. Add my son to one who liked to do most of his eating at home when he was younger. And a PB&J with a package of cookies does sound like enough food for most young kids. My son took PB&J every day for years. Now, he took other things as well, but the sandwich never changed,

 

post #18 of 20


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mar123 View Post

Parents must apply for free and reduced lunch; the school does not have a say so in who gets it. We get the list of who is eligible once the parents apply.

 

Public schools are part of the federal lunch program; I have never heard of one that is not. They like to be because it gives them money.

 

My kids went to Catholic elementary school and they were part of it as well; the high school my kids attend is not. (Catholic as well).

 

I also agree that your kids may not know the whole story. Add my son to one who liked to do most of his eating at home when he was younger. And a PB&J with a package of cookies does sound like enough food for most young kids. My son took PB&J every day for years. Now, he took other things as well, but the sandwich never changed,

 



Actually, Charter schools can be a little different and do not automatically become part of the USDA lunch program by virtue of being a charter school.  You have to have certain facilities and attend a workshop before qualifying.  Of course they like to because of the money, but if your school has to redo the kitchen (commercial grade, vented oven) or use only plug in appliances )microwave, crock pot, etc.) this can be a barrier to qualifying. 

 

So the school either has to offer it to *everyone*, even students who can pay full price, or they cannot offer it at all.  If a school *is* offering the lunch to only students who qualify, then that school is violating those students' civil rights.  Also, it is supposed to be confidential-- a list of students qualifying should not be available for anyone to see.

post #19 of 20

I would probably get involved, but with a very open mind. The peanut butter sandwich part does not bother me, my daughter does not like jelly or any type of meat sandwiches so for her it would be peanut butter everyday. She is a very picky eater:) It does bother me that the girl comes with not enough food so the teacher has to share with her. Maybe the mother is just not aware of this. As a mother I personally would double check to make sure the lunch was reasonable if my child packed it, but I wouldn't consider it child abuse if another mother did not do so. If the statement about plain bread is completely correct, that would cause alarm with me, though maybe it is a battle the mom chooses not to fight and maybe the girl chooses only that. It is so hard to know really! I would approach the teacher and offer to help if needed:)

post #20 of 20

i had the same lunch all the time and would've taken other food just to eat something else.  mine was pbj, chips, little debbie cake.  i was picky.  she might be too and mom does not want to send food that will be wasted.  also would not be unheard of for child this age to like sharing lunch w/teacher and maybe chooses to bring little food to continue that?  anyway as ;long as your school allows i think i would send a portion for them to share.  find out if that is ok though.  my son's school says no due to allergy concerns.

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