It’s been a long time since I packed a school lunch, so I understand that I might be a bit behind the times in terms of what goes on inside the learning institutions of today. Many of my younger friends who have little ones in school have shared some surprising stories with me – surprising because in my lunch-packing days there was pretty much nothing off-limits. I could send peanut butter sandwiches; I could include a can of soda. My kids were also allowed to wear whatever they wanted as long as it was appropriately modest, and it was only the youngest one who had any restrictions regarding carrying her backpack all day from class to class. For the most part, it was a basic, common sense rule system that was easily understood without even having to read the handbook. Today, it seems, things are much different!
I understand the nut restrictions, I really do. Many of us were lucky enough to grow up in a time – and raise our children in a time – when the words ‘nut allergy’ were all but never uttered. An allergy is nothing to take lightly, and if I knew a schoolmate of my child’s could get sick from her peanut butter and jelly sandwich I’d have no problem swapping it for something else. I also had no problem ensuring my kids were always clean and tidy, and had gotten enough sleep the night before to focus and participate in class. I think these are things most parents are on-board with as they are part of being a parent. Just like deciding whether or not your kid can have a lollipop or candy bar at lunch is part of being a parent, too. Or… is it?
I came across an article today titled “School Has No Business Banning Candy From My Kid’s Lunch.” At first I thought, “Maybe she sent in something with nuts that another kid could have a reaction to.” After reading the article, I found out the mother had included one Dum Dums lollipop in her kiddo’s lunch – one Dum Dums lollipop that the “lunch monitor” had taken away from the child as it broke the rules. First, I was taken aback by there being a lunch monitor. I certainly don’t remember those from my own or my kids’ days! But the fact that something as small and innocuous as a Dum Dums lollipop was a rule-breaker really got me upset. As the mom notes in the article, they only have 3 grams of sugar and 26 calories. No – they aren’t fruit. They aren’t vegetables, either. But they’re far from being a terrible snack, and I can’t think of how the child eating one could possibly have a negative effect on those around her.
Even if the lollipop were packed with sugar and calories, isn’t it up to her parents to decide if she can have it? Maybe she earned a special treat for any number of reasons, or gets one really sweet snack each week as a reward for eating healthy most of the time. And maybe the reason she has the lollipop is none of the school’s business in any scenario! In fact, the lollipop could be a part of her parents teaching her how to feed herself properly now and in the future, serving as a tasty example of moderation and the dangers of victimizing food. Food was never an enemy in my house and while I might not be the smartest eater I know, I do consider myself fortunate to live a life free of eating disorders or incessant food guilt.
I’m sure there are people who would disagree with me, and you might even be one of them! I just really, truly, honestly feel that if your child’s lunch is primarily made up of healthy, enriching foods, you should have the freedom to include candy if you wish. What do you all think? Do your children’s schools have lunch restrictions?