October 18, 2013

An Angry Mother’s Rant: Do Not Send Healthy Snacks to School. ~ Yoli Ramazzina

Imagine that another parent at your child’s school asks you to send junk food snacks instead of healthy options.

Would you feel a bit confused?



Well, this happened to me, and honestly, it makes me angry! My son started a new school this fall, and so far he has been happy and doing well. There is an active PTA (Parent Teacher Association) that does a lot to raise extra funds that can be used to benefit the children. For example, some of the funds are used to provide an engaging art program for the children.

Good stuff, right?

However, I received an email this week that really rubbed me the wrong way. There is a weekly “Snack Sale” organized by the PTA and each grade takes a turn contributing the snacks. This week is the third grade’s turn, so I received an email from another parent, asking that we all send some individually wrapped snacks that can be sold for 25 to 50 cents.

Ok, all good so far. This is where is gets a bit disturbing…The sender of the email requests “fun snacks” and the letter goes on to say:

“While appreciating efforts to provide healthy snacks for the kids to purchase, they aren’t the snacks that kids buy. We have an abundance of granola bars and cracker sandwiches filled with peanut butter and cheese. Suggestions for popular snacks include hostess type cupcakes, Twinkies, Capri Suns, pop tarts, pudding cups and the spicy hot chips.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa…Did that just essentially say—Parents, please do not send healthy snacks for your children.

Please send junk foodReally? Wow. When did the PTA become on par with Big Business in the sense that it doesn’t mind peddling unhealthy, harmful foods onto people just to make a profit? Should we really sell our kids crappy food in order to raise funds to benefit them? Talk about counter-intuitive. I found this email to be extremely upsetting. Especially because my husband and I put a lot of effort into making sure our son eats healthy, nourishing food.

Ok, I get it. Kids would rather buy “the spicy hot chips” over granola bars. Twinkies are more appealing than cheese and crackers. But how about this: Couldn’t we request that only healthy, yet tasty snacks be sent? If there are only healthy options available, then the kids are going to spend their quarters on the snacks that are available. There are plenty of healthier options out there.

Despite the request to not send healthy snacks, I opted to send organic “Fruit Leathers” from Trader Joe’s. They are only 50 cents each, made with organic fruit, and they are delicious. My son loves them! Or how about those EnviroKidz Rice Bars that Nature’s Path puts out? They are organic, GMO free, low-sodium, no trans fats, and no synthetic additives or preservatives. They come in berry, peanut butter, and even chocolate flavors. The rice bars are also a favorite in our home. How about good ‘ol fresh fruit? Plump juicy strawberries and tart tasty raspberries always seem to go over well with kids, at least in my experience. Or even some of those pre-packaged carrot sticks with a small cup of ranch. Surely, this is a better option than Pop Tarts and Twinkies?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the junk food police. I was a kid too and I remember the joys of chips and cupcakes. I still indulge on occasion, and I let my son indulge on occasion as well. But chips and cupcakes are not his everyday snacks. Nor do I think fatty junk food type snacks should be so readily available and even pushed on him at school.

What kind of example are we setting when we as parents purposely provide unhealthy snacks on our children just to try to raise a few bucks? We should offer nutritious options that provide sustenance for our kids, without all the excess fat and sugar. Pumping them full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup is not going to have a good effect on their bodies. It’s just going to make their blood sugar sky-rocket and inhibit their ability to focus in school. It’s going to muck up their taste buds and cause them to crave junk food instead of nourishing food that will fuel their growing bodies and brains.

Junk food is everywhere. It’s cheap, it’s available on nearly every street corner, and we are constantly bombarded with ads for it. Big businesses continue to push their product onto the market to keep us fat and lethargic while they line their pockets. Do we, as parents, really need to follow suit and peddle junk food to our own children? Or should we consider setting a better example and offering them healthy, tasty snacks?

If another parent is happy to feed her kids Twinkies and hot Cheetos, ultimately that’s her business. However, it really upsets me that we were encouraged to offer junky foods at school and perpetuate unhealthy eating habits amongst the other children.

I’m infuriated to have received an email asking me not to send healthy snack options for my son and the other children. My hope is that those of us who are mindful about the importance eating well, continue to be passionate about following a healthy diet. Let us teach our children the value of eating good food by setting an example and by educating them on the difference between junk foods that harm our bodies and healthy foods which help them thrive.

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Assist Ed: Judith Andersson / Ed: Sara Crolick

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