|Hot Cheetos: a favorite snack provided by parents at my son's school.|
Each day my son gets a snack, provided by a parent, at the end of afternoon Kindergarten (noon to 3:30 pm). Parents take turns bringing snacks. Originally, snack happened during class, but then the teacher decided that snack was taking up too much class time, and moved the snack to the end of the day. I think this is kind of odd all by itself. Why hand out a snack after class when each parent can just bring their own snack or take their kid home for a snack? The long and short of it is, I get to see the snack my son receives every day. He usually eats it in the car on the way home.
Yesterday he came out with a fruit roll-up as well as a bag of pink lemonade to drink. I glanced at the packaging and ingredients of the fruit roll-up:
Fruit Roll-ups: Strawberry Naturally Flavored (Fruit Flavored Snack)My main objections to this fruit snack are:
Ingredients: Pears from Concentrate, Corn Syrup, Dried Corn Syrup, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Contains 2% or less of: Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Acetylated Monoglycerides, Fruit Pectin, Dextrose, Malic Acid, Vitamin C, Natural Flavor, Color (red 40, yellows 5 & 6, blue 1)
- Too much sugar, including corn syrup, which I avoid all together
- Hydrogenated oils
- Artificial colors
If this were a once in a while thing, I would look the other way, as I generally do when it comes to food other people serve my kids. But almost every day he exits school with a snack like this. Never mind that school-wide newsletters often come home reminding parents to bring only healthy foods low in sugar to school for celebrations and snacks. I remember the day I watched a dad walk a case of blue Gatorade to the classroom to hand out as the kids left. Several parents have brought Little Caesars pizza. Several others have brought popsicles. I do not consider any of those things "snacks." I'm not sure if parents are trying to one-up each other or if this is a popularity contest or what. These snacks make school lunch look good.
I now have a stash of granola bars, Annie's gummy rabbits, and 100% juice drinks in the trunk of my car that I trade with my son for the snacks that are unacceptable to me. Sometimes there are willing exchanges, sometimes forced trades (and even tears shed) depending on how affronted I am by the particular snack. Sometimes I wonder what my son must think when I tell him that the snacks another parent brought are not good for his body and I'm not going to let him eat them. I worry that eventually he'll say something impolite when someone offers him the snack.
Several times, I have suggested to my son's teacher that we just eliminate the snack all together, since it's at the end of school anyway. I have also suggested that she print on the snack calendar that snacks should be as healthy as possible and low in sugar. Neither has happened.
What is so painful to me is that my son attends a school that is predominantly low-income Hispanic immigrants. I used to teach this exact population and I know the statistic: half of these kids will have type 2 diabetes by the time they are adults. My Hispanic father-in-law is borderline type 2 diabetic. I am sure that many of these kids will be overweight by the end of elementary school. How can all these parents really think these are acceptable "snack" foods for their children?
But I try to tread carefully. Because even typing this I fear I come off as an obnoxious elitist snob. I am one of two white parents in the class, and also probably one of the better educated parents in the class. I'm not quite sure which is more condescending: to blame the parents for making such poor choices, or to blame the food industry for duping parents into thinking these products are "foods" acceptable for their children's consumption. Is it unrealistic to ask parents to make better choices in the face of such poor choices? Does it promote too much of a nanny state or is it too paternalistic to say we shouldn't allow such foods to be marketed and sold? Am I overreacting to the ingredients of my son's daily snacks?
So, Boothers, I ask you:
- How worked up do you get about junk food offered to your children?
- How would you handle this situation?
- What uncomfortable children's food situations have you dealt with?