School forcing kids to eat lunch? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 03-10-2007, 01:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Have you ever heard of children being punished at school for not wanting to eat their lunch?

My SO got a phonecall the other day. My dd had decided she didn't want to eat her sandwich at school, which resulted in the teacher phoning home and telling my SO that either he was to give permission for her to keep dd in from lunch recess until she ate her sandwich, or they were sending her home for the day. My SO, not knowing what to do and not being able to contact me at work, let them keep dd in because he didn't feel like she should miss the afternoon of school (had it been me, I would have went and picked her up and told them to shove it, but that's another story altogether )

When I found out about this after the lunch hour and phoned the school, the teacher started in on how dd wanted to eat the dessert I had packed her, but not the sandwich, and that she was wary of dd having sugar in her lunch as it might "cause her to be a problem in the afternoon". Dd doesn't have a problem with sugar. You could feed the kid a truckload and if she wasn't have a hyperactive day, she still wouldn't be hyper. If she was having a crazy day, it wouldn't matter what you fed her and she'd still be like that. I think I'm more suitable to make this call, considering I've known the kid since she was a fetus.

So, needless to say, I'm more than a little ticked. I don't like the idea of my kid being forced to eat to begin with. Not to mention the absolute worst thing you can do is keep her indoors all day if you don't want her to be hyperactive (she has adhd and asperger's..the kid needs her playtime!). This is her fourth year at this school and her lunch has never been an issue before, and quite frankly it's is quite healthy most of the time (she'll even eat raw broccoli) so if she has a day where she's gicked out by part of it I really don't care, as her eating habits are pretty fabulous to begin with. This is not the first time I've had to tell the teacher this. A few months back dd wanted the "dessert" part of her lunch for first snack, and the teacher wouldn't let her have it. I told her I didn't care what part of lunch she ate when, and our meals at home are pretty much all prepared from scratch and balanced, so if she doesn't finish all the healthy parts of her lunch during the day, we can more than make up for it at home. But apparently the teacher isn't getting it. My feeling is, regardless of what standards the teacher has, if the parents are packing it in the kids lunch, then they want their kids to have it, and it's really none of her business.

At this point, I'm thinking of just going ahead and phoning the school board and filing a complaint. I've spoke to the principal of the school before and she's no help at all, so I feel like I have no where to go but above their heads, and I'm really sick of this. Food has never been an issue before with dd, and I don't want them turning it into one.

Thanks for letting me vent. I could just scream at this point. We've had several other issues with the teacher throughout the year, and I'm just so so sick of her crap.

Has anyone else dealt with this before? What do you do when a teacher is overstepping their bounds? My SO suggested I send dd gummy worms, dunkaroos and packages of smarties for lunch the first day back after march break, but that may not be the best idea, although I would love to see the look on her face
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#2 of 16 Old 03-10-2007, 04:58 AM
 
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If you contact the school board, do it first to ask if there is a school policy regarding lunch. If not, perhaps you could make some suggestions for something that makes sense to you. Even if it doesn't go anywhere, policy-wise, the discussion will draw their attention to the problem. Is this teacher or any other doing this with other students?
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#3 of 16 Old 03-10-2007, 09:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by ecoteat View Post
If you contact the school board, do it first to ask if there is a school policy regarding lunch. If not, perhaps you could make some suggestions for something that makes sense to you. Even if it doesn't go anywhere, policy-wise, the discussion will draw their attention to the problem. Is this teacher or any other doing this with other students?
As far as I can tell, it's not happening with any other students. My friend's daughter is in the class and takes far "worse" lunches than my dd has, and it's never been an issue. And the "dessert" portion of her lunch that the teacher seems to have such a problem with isn't even in her lunch everyday! :
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#4 of 16 Old 03-10-2007, 11:59 PM
 
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Wow, that's just unbelievable! I think I'd first write a letter to the teacher and copy the principal on it, detailing what had happened, your discussions on this matter before, and how you wish for this to be handled in the future (i.e. let the kid eat whatever she wants from her lunch, when she wants to). I'd probably get kind of polite snarky at the end and say something like "Please don't hesitate to contact me at this number if there is any further confusion on this matter, as I'd rather resolve this situation directly than escalate it." but the whole "escalation" thing might be too witchy. If it happens again, include the first letter with a new letter to the school board and demand to know how they will address this. I'm sorry - and I would've chosen to go pick her up too!

K.
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#5 of 16 Old 03-11-2007, 12:27 AM
 
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I would be LIVID. Unless you gave the teacher specific instructions to make sure DD eats this and that with X consequences if she doesn't (which is silly unless she's a diabetic or something) then teacher needs to BUTT OUT. Force feeding children is TERRIBLE. She should not be PUNISHED for not eating. If she didn't eat her sandwich and wanted only dessert then she would have recieved punishment in the form of hunger towards the end of the school day. (and if she still didn't care and wasn't hungry, whatever. Still not the teacher's job to force feed kids.)
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#6 of 16 Old 03-11-2007, 02:48 PM
 
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I'd be HOT. Really, really hot. My kid only get 15 minutes in the lunchroom, sometimes less, and he often comes home without having eaten a single bite of anything. He's a talker, and he spends his lunchtime chatting instead of eating. When this happens, he eats his lunch as his afternoon snack instead of what he'd usually get (carrots, raisins, cheese, etc.). A few times this year, he's been put on "silent lunch", where he's not allowed to talk during lunchtime. At first this pissed me off, but then I realized that HIS chattiness was also influencing the kids around him, so they weren't eating either. I didn't get too worked up about it after that.

The lunchroom staff does walk around and encourage kids to eat - "Armani if you don't eat your sandwich you won't have good energy for gym class this afteroon", etc. But they don't force it. If they did, I'd start with the teacher and ask if the school has a blanket policy, and go from there.
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#7 of 16 Old 03-11-2007, 05:21 PM
 
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Does your DD have an IEP? It could be addressed that way.

What are you more PO'd about? Their chosen approach or the fact that the teacher's not listening and implementing appropriate strategies for your child?

The approach is fairly common. There are lots of kids in most schools and many of them have their quirks about food. I'm likely going to be talking to DD's teacher this week if they continue on their latest. DD's not a big eater, and she's highly social. Now, they've put her next to a boy who's a bit...busy and disruptive. He's supposed to eat in the office apparently as he's so disruptive (poor guy), but on Friday he didn't. Needless to say, DD literally ate one bite. I feel for the school as they've got all of these counter pressures going on - encouraging good eating habits, appropriate conduct while eating, sugar-affected kids, allergies, supervision etc etc.

In your circumstances, I second the idea of putting it in writing and cc-ing the principal. And if you have an IEP, ensure that it's added.

Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.

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#8 of 16 Old 03-11-2007, 08:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies. I wasn't sure if I was reacting the way other mothers would (not that I'm really concerned about that..) or not, as I've had issues with this teacher around other things all year so I like to be sure I'm not just being overly sensitive..but I had a feeling I wasn't!

I'm going to put it in writing and send it with dd the first day back after March break.

And about the IEP, get this..after seeing dd's assessment from the psychologist along with the recommendations the vice principal/resource teacher said "Well, her problems aren't serious enough to warrant an IEP". And yet she's in grade two, with verbal/reasoning skills and overall intelligence off the charts, and she's performing at under grade one level..but it's not serious enough? The entire school is messed up. I'm going to homeschool her next year and then send her to another school after that. These people are insane :
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#9 of 16 Old 03-11-2007, 08:17 PM
 
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I had something similar happen in ds's preschool. I don't pack a dessert, but a lot of other parent did and I guess the policy was that the kid had to eat some of their regular lunch before they could eat their dessert. So one day I packed him some dried apples, and because he called them his treats, the teacher decided that he couldn't have them until he ate more of his lunch. When I came to pick him up (which is pretty much right after lunch) ds was pissed! And honestly, so was I. This is the way I see it - I'm the parent, I packed the lunch, and therefore I am giving permission to my child to eat what is in the lunch. If I want a teacher to monitor how much my child eats of their lunch, I will ask them to. I basically told his teacher that ds was free to eat whatever he wanted to (or not) of his lunch. She was pretty pissed at me, and felt like I was undermining her authority and not respecting the rules that are in place about lunchtime. But give me a break - just because other parents pack cookies doesn't mean that dried apples are automatically considered a dessert. I'm the parent, and this does not fall under her authority as far as I'm concerned.

And one of the weirdest things about this incident was that it happened two days before school ended for good - ds had been there two YEARS and not a single problem with his lunch, and two days before he will be gone from the preschool for good she decides to hold his dried apples hostage? Honestly, I think sometimes teachers go into authoritarian mode and don't think clearly. I know I sometimes do stupid things when I get into a power struggle with the kids over something so ridiculous.

I would have a note put into your dd's file that she can eat whatever is in her lunch in whatever quantity she chooses. I would like to hear the school board define "dessert." Is it anything with sugar in it? Yeah, well, then I guess most of the sandwiches would be considered dessert since so many breads have high fructose corn syrup in them. The whole thing is ridiculous IMO, and I wouldn't let it go until you got the point across that they are not to punish your dd for what she does or doesn't eat.
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#10 of 16 Old 03-11-2007, 08:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by maliceinwonderland View Post
And about the IEP, get this..after seeing dd's assessment from the psychologist along with the recommendations the vice principal/resource teacher said "Well, her problems aren't serious enough to warrant an IEP". And yet she's in grade two, with verbal/reasoning skills and overall intelligence off the charts, and she's performing at under grade one level..but it's not serious enough? The entire school is messed up. I'm going to homeschool her next year and then send her to another school after that. These people are insane :
That's nonsense (thinking a different word, lol).

See here:
http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general.../individu.html
and
http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general...d/iep/iep.html

It sounds like you need to get access to
Quote:
An IEP must be developed for every student who has been identified as an “exceptional pupil” by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC), in accordance with Regulation 181/98
The site says:
Quote:
To whom do I speak regarding an issue at my child's school?

Whenever you have a suggestion or a concern about your child's school or education program, do not hesitate to speak with your child's teacher or the school principal. Teachers and principals are responsible for issues relating to their own schools, and welcome parental involvement. If you have further inquiries or concerns you should contact your District School Boards or School Authorities posted on this website.
http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/parents....html#schools4

I would say that this teacher and principal are out of their depths. They clearly need the support of their higher ups . This is not up to the individual school's admin, they have requirements under their Min of Ed legislation.

Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.

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#11 of 16 Old 03-11-2007, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post
This is the way I see it - I'm the parent, I packed the lunch, and therefore I am giving permission to my child to eat what is in the lunch. If I want a teacher to monitor how much my child eats of their lunch, I will ask them to. I basically told his teacher that ds was free to eat whatever he wanted to (or not) of his lunch. She was pretty pissed at me, and felt like I was undermining her authority and not respecting the rules that are in place about lunchtime. But give me a break - just because other parents pack cookies doesn't mean that dried apples are automatically considered a dessert. I'm the parent, and this does not fall under her authority as far as I'm concerned
This is exactly how I feel about it. Hell, if I pack a can of coke (would never happen, but anyway) it's because I wanted my kid to have it. Most days dd's "dessert" is strawberries, or sliced melons (her favorite). I'd be interested to see if the teacher decided to take these away. My sister, god love her, packs pretty much junk in her son's lunch (same school, different teacher). He has plenty of other issues she's more concerned with than what he's eating at school, and like me their breakfasts/dinners are healthy and homemade so she feels like it's more important to just keep him fairly happy through the school day and not worry too much about one meal. When I was telling her about what happened with dd she said "Sometimes I put stuff in ds' lunch just to see if anyone will say anything!" And no one ever has. In fact, the other parents I've spoken to who have kids in the school have been just as shocked as I was, because this definately is not a school policy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post
I would have a note put into your dd's file that she can eat whatever is in her lunch in whatever quantity she chooses. I would like to hear the school board define "dessert." Is it anything with sugar in it? Yeah, well, then I guess most of the sandwiches would be considered dessert since so many breads have high fructose corn syrup in them. The whole thing is ridiculous IMO, and I wouldn't let it go until you got the point across that they are not to punish your dd for what she does or doesn't eat.
That's a really interesting point about the corn syrup, and I'll be sure to bring it up if the need arises. Although it wouldn't apply to most breads in dd's lunch, because they're homemade..
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#12 of 16 Old 03-11-2007, 08:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I would say that this teacher and principal are out of their depths. They clearly need the support of their higher ups . This is not up to the individual school's admin, they have requirements under their Min of Ed legislation.

Thank you sooo much for this information. I was fairly certain it was a complete load of bs, but didn't know what to do about it. I was going to let it drop since I'm keeping her home next year anyway and then she'll be attending a different school, but I think since they're just so darned concerned about her well being I'll press the issue
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#13 of 16 Old 03-15-2007, 08:06 AM
 
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If it were me, I'd pack nothing but chocolate bars the next time...see what the teacher has to say about that! :

But, yeah, that's completely ridiculous. And you definitely need an IEP for your child. It sounds like she's very bright but needs a little boost and it's the school's responsibility to help her - so kick 'em in the pants!

Jenn
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#14 of 16 Old 03-16-2007, 07:10 PM
 
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I do think the teacher is out of line... but DD's school regularly sends home notices requesting that parents not send sugary snacks/foods to school, period.

Is there a similar policy at your daughter's school?

Is it possible that there is a jealousy issue with other kids seeing her eating dessert while they only have a sandwich?

It just seems like there must be something else going on here. But maybe it's just the teacher's power struggle with you. Lame.

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#15 of 16 Old 03-22-2007, 02:27 AM
 
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I would think that they would know that forcing a child to eat something that s/he doesn't want to can lead to eating disorders as preteens/teens/adaults.

Even if the school has a policy about "encouraging good eating habits" then in that policy it should state that the child cannot be forced to eat what s/he does not want to eat. There is a BIG difference between "encouraging" and "forcing". The first is healthy and the second is not....period.
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#16 of 16 Old 03-22-2007, 09:56 AM
 
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I agree with what the others have said: if you packed it then you're saying it's OK for her to eat it. I could maybe see them getting involved if she wasn't eating lunch and then she spent the entire afternoon complaining of hunger but if that's not the case then it's none of the school's business.

My dd buys her lunch at school. I have reviewed the school lunch meals and determined the choices to be acceptable. If I were to call the school and ask that my dd not be allowed to have one of the options I'm sure they would tell me that it's up to dd. They don't have the staffing to worry about which kids are allowed what choices. (allergies are the exception of course) They have vegetarian option but if I were raising my kids veggie and they decided to grab a burger one day that would not be the school's fault.

I know that's a little off topic but to me it's just the other side of the same coin. I'm sure your dd's teacher has much better things she could be doing with her time.

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