Thursday, November 01, 2007

Food In The Classroom

Boy I've had a crappy week. Not like the glory days, but for 2007 it's made the grade. I messed up at work - big time. Twice in one day. I like to think that I am permitted to make a mistake, but I guess not. Then, I failed yet again in advocating for my son. I try to get the moms to make party food that ALL kids can eat. Educating parents that a replacement food doesn't cut it is challenging. Eating Skittles while everyone else is enjoying a fancy cookie? Not being able to comment along with his friends about the cookie takes away the whole point of celebration. Sharing something as a group is the whole point of celebrations.

My son can't eat cafeteria food or the myriad of birthday crap that comes into the classroom each week. My district is completely unmoderated and out-of-CONTROL. So, I try to make the parties that happen 4 times a year, a party for MY son, the class, be a time where he can participate. I am only asking for 4 times a year. Baby steps.

You know what's crazy? I'm advocating for my son to eat junk food. I don't even want him to have this stuff!

Per usual, I offered to bake, discussions take place in a way that avoids toe-stepping. It's so highly competitive! I offer simple recipes. I offer to drop off GF flour. I tell them where to buy store-bought GF cookies. Sometimes I get lucky, but usually my son has to sit and watch the other kids enjoy the food.

In a nutshell: No one gives a shit unless it's their kid. In a nutshell, no one will do ANYTHING unless they HAVE to. My son doesn't need an epipen so it's not taken seriously. Why must a child's life be at risk for parents to alter their behavior and consider the perspective of others? And even then parents grumble about peanuts and such. That kids can't have their favorite brand of pretzels?

As we all know there is now a federal mandate for all school districts to have a Wellness Policy in place. There are 8 modules that cover mental and physical wellness; bullying, gym, air quality, recycling, health curriculum, all sorts of things.

A part of this is supposed to be about how food is utilized in the classroom. The teachers are no longer supposed to use food as reinforcers (I'm not talking about our kids that need this for therapy goals). But yet again I see candy corn given out to quiet tables. Hersheys Kisses given as a Friday farewell. Even after a health topic is covered! Once my daughter's class was visited by a dentist. After that, they ate cupcakes for a kid's birthday. What kind of mixed message is that? Popcicles can be purchased for "snack" by a 6 year old. Just insanity.

Economics dictates how seriously this is taken by the parents and teachers that live in each community. Budget money must compete for computer software, curriculum materials, new chairs, what have you. Naturally, the government has no resources to enforce this policy. So life goes on.

I live in a po-dunk town that has no clue about nutrition. Think 1975 with updated home decor. The culture here is very traditional, very heavy into using food for celebrations. Over the top. Any excuse to bring in a giant plate of brownies, count on my district. Working parents spend 8 to 10 dollars a day on lunch - delicious salads, wraps, panini sandwiches. But when it comes to their children, they complain about $2.50 per day for their child's lunch in the cafeteria. They don't care about the quality. Something that 99.9% of the time comes from a box or a can and reheated. Have you ever looked behind th counter? Spotless. That's because there's no cooking going on.

Happy Fucking Halloween


Artemisia said...

I'm SO with you on this one - most parents just don't give a flying f*** if it's not their kid. If the school doesn't take a stand, good luck.

Our "upscale" district is no different - when the standardized tests are given, teachers actually have room parents coordinate deliveries of junk food for treats.

AshleyLeo said...

That's unbelievable. Junk food for testing? I'm ready to home school.

Like you, we live in a similar district. People should know better as they have access to health information and the means to take care of their families.

Laura said...

Whew. We survived Halloween! I went to the party at Hutton's school. I had made special rice crispy treats Wed. night - half Koala Crisp, half regular gluten free rice cereal, Ricemellow and some spectrum shortening. They turned out really well. And then in my rush to go get Harrison at school so we'd make it to Hutton's party in time, I left them at home! Uggh. At least I had thought ahead and left the juice boxes I was in charge of in the car. I figured it was better to be on time to head off any infractions than to go back for the treats! I had given Hutton a fruit leather snack for school, but apparently they still had snack time, even with the party, so he'd already eaten it when I got there. D'oh!

They played a bingo game, using candy corn as markers. Grr. I kept close watch, reminding Hutton to use the candy corn as markers, not to eat them. They had a not so bad snack mix for the kids - chex and pretzels and craisins. Not the worst junk food, but still full of stuff Hutton can't eat. I picked out the craisins for him, but he didn't want them. Then they brought out the store bought sugar cookies and the tub of frosting and sprinkles to put on. Huh. I actually decided to just cave on that and let Hutton decorate a cookie. He did, and licked some frosting, and like most of the other kids, didn't even eat the cookie, but I chalked it up to a good chance to see how strict we need to be with his diet - do we still need to watch corn, etc? Well, he wasn't horrible, just a bit keyed up during his ABA session that afternoon.

One interesting thing -- after the party, two moms I know from the class told me quietly, "Thanks for bringing juice boxes that are real juice, and not that sugar water crap!" I was glad to hear that some of the other parents in his class are concerned about what their kids eat and drink! Unfortunately, the new teacher doesn't get it - a few weeks ago, she sent a note that Hutton didn't want his snack, so she gave him a GRAHAM CRACKER! !@%#()*^)(^* I was way annoyed. I made a big show at the beginning of the year about bringing in a huge bag of raisins for her to use as tokens or extra snacks for Hutton. You're right - if there's not an epipen involved, they don't care! This is the same teacher who every time I've been in class to observe talks about how she's light-headed and needs to eat her protein snack. Hmm. I guess what you eat can affect the way you feel and your behavior. Interesting!

I took the rice crispy treats to my friend's house for post trick or treating - and Hutton was more than happy to eat fruit leather instead of candy! Sugar is sugar, right?

Sorry about the super long comment/vent!

AshleyLeo said...

Incredible comments Laura. Good thing about the frosting - probably the best for him as far as the cookie is concerned.

Your comment about the moms quietly commenting to you. Why in the hell do we need to be QUIET about the health of our children?? How sad is it that social pressure wins??

AshleyLeo said...

And vent ANN--NEE-TIME forever.

Laura said...

Yeah, it's weird. I guess they didn't want to offend anyone if someone who gives their kids "crap" overheard. But, it seems like in such a small class, most of the kids have some food thing. I passed out juice boxes, and asked the kids which flavor they liked. One boy said, "I can't drink apple juice," so I looked, but all of the juice boxes had some apple in their blend. I told the boy and his mom that and apologized, then mentioned how my younger guy can't have orange juice and it's tricky. But, the point it, soooo many kids have food intolerances or allergies these days. Seeing that the teacher can't keep track of the allergies of 8 kids, I know it's just going to get harder as Hutton gets older and hopefully moves into larger, more mainstream classes where parties will be more frequent and the junk will remain junk!

AshleyLeo said...

I just got some good news - the holiday party food person for Leo's class is "excited about baking something special". I hope it's true!

After the Halloween incident, I need something good to happen. Who woulda thought that would be crap that is allergy free?

Laura, true, food is very hard manage. But as they get older and the class sizes get bigger, in a way it's easier. Kids KNOW better.

AshleyLeo said...

And I forgot to comment Laura about the juice and such - social rules are the most important, even with moms! How sad is that!