Sugar Sugar... — The Bump
School-Aged Children

Sugar Sugar...

How much sugar is your child given at school? 

At the beginning of the year (Kindergarten) we received a letter detailing childhood obesity, the problem it has become in this country, and what to do about it.  Since then, my child has been plied with sweets and candy weekly: chocolate for helping clean the room, candy and frosting etc to create cute food projects, ice cream and cupcakes in the cafeteria.  She comes home with stickers on her shirt that instruct me to go to Dunkin' Donuts to support the school, or buy a cake for valentines day, or suckers for field day.  On Dunkin Donut Day there was even a man dressed in a donut costume to entice the children.  For the 100th day of school, the children got "100" snacks - a mix of m&ms, fruit loops, skittles, chocolate chips, marshmellows, etc. 

I'm not overly strict at home; we all love sweets, but we keep it to a reasonable limit.  After dinner dessert is fruit.  Once in a while we'll go out for ice cream; for birthdays we enjoy cake.  I can control the poor food supply in the cafeteria by packing my DDs lunch, which she prefers.  But I can't control the onslaught of candy and sugar that is supplied to or pushed upon my daughter.  And most of all, I do not understand how a school who took the time to write and the resources to distribute a letter on childhood obesity can justify the choices they make for our children throughout the year. 

I'm very distressed about this, so I'm sorry to vent, I just know that if I say something at school or write a letter that I'm likely to get a) blown off or b) a name for myself, which may impact my DD.

Thanks for listening everyone. 

Doriimage
"Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

Miracle DD born 12.2005
TTC #2 since Dec 2008 w/ PCOS
***P/SAIF Always Welcome***

Keep it Natural, Baby!

Re: Sugar Sugar...

  • I'm a nanny, but I hang out on this board because there are some things that just aren't covered when you're getting your early childhood degree.

    The kids I nanny for aren't allowed to have any sugar in school. The older one (he's 9) went to school with a pack of teddy grahams once and the teacher sent them home with a note. She has a list of "approved" lunches they can eat in school that I have to reference when packing for them and on Valentines day the kids had to meet early before school to exchange any Valentines that had sugary candies in them. So it's really like a "too much of a healthy thing" situation. (ETA: They go to a private school.)

    When I was a teacher, parents would want to come in for birthdays and holidays and give out treats they bought or made -- which is totally understandable. But they were always something terribly sugary and it was hard to say anything to them about it because you don't want them to feel like they are being judged when they do something nice or are making an attempt to be involved. I would definitely write a letter, or e-mail to your kids' teacher about it. Knowing that she has parental support can be a huge help because a lot of the time parents will respond to that beginning of the year letter with a nasty comment or e-mail that basically says, "Don't tell me what to feed my kids, I'm busy and they'll eat what they're given." Having support from other parents may make the teachers feel more comfortable giving pencils or stickers as a reward instead of Jolly Ranchers.

     

    GL.

  • JMayJMay member

    Thanks for your reply.  I agree that keeping school healthy can get to the point of going overboard inn the opposite direction, i.e. too much of a good thing.  And to have a list of "pre-approved" snacks is inappropriate - what the teacher thinks is healthy may not be what I think is healthy - I do not want my children exposed to petroleum based food dyes, for example.  On the flip side, I do not want the teacher/school to "promote" the consumption of unhealthy foods.  Pencils or stickers would be a great reward substitute to food, of any kind (not keen on learning to view food as a reward, for that's a very hard habit to break in adulthood). And school funding events could be held at the grocery store or movie theatre (ticket booth) instead of at a donut shop or ice cream stand.  There are alternatives, if people take the time to seek them. 

    I'm not really surprised that parents have a reaction though - so many people don't care what they eat, or what they give their children, and of course no one wants to be told what to do, myself included.  To me, flame worthy as it may be, to not take the time and effort to do your best to feed your children healthy nutritious food because one is "busy" is an excuse, and its that very excuse that will perpetuate the obesity and childhood diabetes epidemic we currently face.  It's our children who will suffer the consequences for our culinary choices. 

    You are correct, I should send a letter.  I know I just have to be careful, non emotional and back up my points with current research and specific examples.  I'm nervous to do it, but I have to say something.  Thanks again for your reply. :) 

    Doriimage
    "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

    Miracle DD born 12.2005
    TTC #2 since Dec 2008 w/ PCOS
    ***P/SAIF Always Welcome***

    Keep it Natural, Baby!
  • Loading the player...
  • not enough to concern me.  Last year, DS's KG teacher loved candy and had a bucket in her class from Halloween that lasted all year.  I really didn't mind if DS got some here or there, it was never too much to cause concern.  I'm ok with a year ice cream party too, along with a few holiday parties.  We're still far from a weekly or daily thing here.  There is one day a year that we can get a discount at DQ if we go (we don't).  That's about it.  They do emphasize healthy eating there and recognize that they don't need to encourage more crap to come in than necessary, they don't allow edible treats for bdays, just trinkets/toys. 

    Some of this sounds like it might be coming from the PTA (stickers on shirts re: discount night at the donut shop).  If you haven't already, attend a PTA meeting and voice your opinion the next time they discuss such a fundraiser.  I'm sure you're not the only mom with this concern. 

    DS1 age 7, DD age 5 and DS2 born 4/3/12
  • I actually feel my son's school does a pretty good job of controlling the amount of snacks and candy given to the kids while not being overly strict.  I feel like your elementary school is sending a really mixed message, and I would be aggravated as well.  For comparison, here's how it works at my kids' school: 

    They have 2 class parties each year: Halloween and Valentine's day.  On these days, the kids get favor bags that are a mix of small toys and candy treats.  

    One area where your school and mine differ is that I've never known candy or edible treats to be used as incentives for behavior or for class activities. That would really bother me.  Our school does do fundraisers at local restaurants, but it's usually something like Chick-fil-a or Ruby Tuesday rather than a dessert place.

    My son's K teacher did do a unit last December on the story of the Gingerbread Man.  On the last day before winter break, they had an activity where they used candy and icing to decorate a gingerbread man cookie.  Eh -- I can see doing this type of activity once in a year.

    Probably the only way to handle this would be from the inside of the PTA.  If you were involved in the PTA anyway, you might offer to chair a "healthy lifestyles" initiative or something.  But I agree with your assessment that writing an email will probably not do much good.

    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
  • Our school is part of the healthy initiative.  Join your PTA and suggest it.  It has been great.  Instead of parties being a sugar-fest the kids are given one treat and then fruit, veggies, and pretzels/popcorn.  There's been a lot of fitness and healthy eating tied into their classes and after school activities. 

    Instead of donut days we have bagel days.  And instead of icecream days we have popcorn days. 

    There are still birthday treats and other random treats but I don't mind those. 

    .
  • IMO - have you ever noticed that the people who work in bakeries and chocolate shops don't eat sweets unless they're really super high-end treats... 

    One thing I've found is that the more you limit it the more that kids want it compared to having it openly available almost all the time.  It's all about moderation, eventually they know that they can have it but they really don't care because eh, it's not "forbidden fruit"....  Unfortunately DH hasn't figured this out yet when it comes to snacks for DD..

    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • Wow, this is a lot! 100 candy snacks? I would feel the same way. It couldn't hurt to ask other parents how they feel if the opportunity arises. I would be 100% with you that's for sure. There may be more parents who share your views than you think. It's one of the main concerns I have about when DD goes to K next year. Even the lunch menu ay our school is mostly nutrition-less food and juice. It distresses me that sugar is such a common currency instead of stickers, and other rewards. Maybe you could offer to donate or make healthier things here and there for the teachers when there is an event or they'll be using rewards in the classroom? 
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  • JMayJMay member

    Thanks for all the idea Ladies!  I agree, the PTA would be a good way to go about creating positive change, but I also admit, I'm terrified of exposing myself to that big bad scary clique, especially as a rebel rouser.  ;)  I'm going to take some action this year, though I'm not yet sure what, and I will consider joining the PTA for next year.  I am the room mom, so to some degree, I can control the party food (we have 4 parties PLUS an end-of year party that is supposed to be pizza related...).  When I'm not in control it's some sickening frosting-related food craft, but for the spring party we're making flowers out of fruit.  Yum!  Small steps will hopefully bring about big change.  I just wish someone else had already taken the ball...

    :)

    Doriimage
    "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

    Miracle DD born 12.2005
    TTC #2 since Dec 2008 w/ PCOS
    ***P/SAIF Always Welcome***

    Keep it Natural, Baby!
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