A mother of a 2-year-old boy was surprised and a bit angry when part of the nursery school lunch she packed was sent back for being “too unhealthy.” Concerns for the health of young children have sparked a movement around reducing sugars and other ingredients that can be unhealthy at high doses in school lunches.
However, this particular nursery school might be going too far.
“‘I sent my 2.5 yr old son to school with this and the cookies got sent home because they’re unhealthy,” she wrote. “There was 3 MINI cookies.”
The comment was in response to a Plymouth Live story in which teachers talked about the most unhealthy school lunches they had witnessed from their students. Cornwall Live posted the story on Facebook and asked readers to submit their own examples of terrible school lunches they had seen.
Laura Lee went in a different direction, including a photo of the nursery school lunch she had packed for her toddler:
To most, this lunch would seem pretty healthy. It even includes cucumber slices with the middles cut out into cute little flower shapes. My school lunches never looked like this.
As long as the toddler ate some of the rest of the lunch, three mini cookies would probably be a nicely balanced dessert. However, the nursery school still sent them home with the claim that they were “unhealthy.” Is any sugar allowed at this school?
Other parents and commenters replied to Laura Lee expressing their shock that anyone could consider that lunch to be unhealthy in any capacity.
“I work in a nursery and believe me, I have seen some terrible packed lunches in the past!” said one. “This looks perfect to me!”
“Looks like you took time and effort to his lunch ‘fun’ and appealing,” said Susan McGowan. “Absolute rubbish that he wasn’t allowed to get those small cookies. Everything in moderation surely.”
Others offered their own examples of schools sending back parts of a packed lunch.
“That looks great and well balanced,” wrote Christina Robinson. “My son’s drink got sent home because it was fizzy, it was sparkling water.”
Then there’s the fact that the lunches served by schools are often not nearly as healthy as what Laura packed.
“Amazing, when a child’s free school lunch can have a syrup sponge and custard for a pudding,” Stephanie Hughes pointed out.
In the US and abroad, there have been recent movements geared toward getting kids to eat healthier food. This comes after decades of advertising aimed at children for snacks loaded with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, plus any number of dubious artificial ingredients.
Schools have responded by encouraging both kids and parents to turn to healthy lunches and trying to provide more veggies and other nutritious options in their own lunches. Some schools have taken extra steps by monitoring the content of parent-packed lunches and prohibiting certain foods.
One school district in Richmond, Missouri, banned all fast food on school grounds. Some parents felt that this was a case of schools being too controlling.
“I thought it was overstepping at its finest,” said one father of five. “It’s up to parents what their children eat.”
Other schools have banned specific foods like nuts out of concern for kids with deadly allergies. This is understandable, but it seems extremely unlikely that a couple of mini cookies are going to kill anybody.
In Laura’s case, she’s not sure what will be sent home next.
“I packed a vegan bar yesterday that’s made of dates, Raisins and nuts but looked like chocolate,” she wrote. “Expected that to come back in a bag too.”
Laura’s story has made its way around the web, and built up a number of comments from frustrated parents.
“Schools should concentrate on teaching and not being the lunch box police,” says one commenter. “No good being skinny fit but finish school knowing nothing.”
Others sympathize with the school’s decision.
“I think parents often forget their child is not the only one in the school, and rules are implemented to make everything work as well as possible,” an anonymous individual wrote. “Even the pack lunch pictured is carb heavy and even the most foody of our children would leave half.”