Monday, September 27, 2010

Snack-volution, This Mama Wants a Change

{ find a fruit market and save, this is $40 of produce! }

I need to get this off my chest, I in no way want to offend anyone.

I am tired of sending my kids to school after a healthy balanced breakfast and having them stuffed full of junk food in the name of “snack”. I am so tired, oh so tired, of hearing it’s all we can have because of allergies, how the school needs to accommodate everyone. Last time I checked the label on my apples, carrots, and grapes, and veggies do not contain:
Tree Nuts
Corn or Soy
(yes admittedly that was a little snarky) That was our allergy list from one classroom, one year, for one of my children.

It’s laziness, gold fish packs are easy to prepare, and picky-ness, “my kid doesn’t like _____ “ I don’t care anymore. I am going to rock the boat. Marshmallows, chocolate teddy grahams, chocolate chip cookies (or muffins) and chocolate covered rice krispie treats (all actually served in my child's classroom) are not remotely healthy or nutritious. One nutritionist I saw do a lecture questions the need for morning snacks at all, especially in a 2 hour preschool program. I get that snacks are part of routine, some kids need it, and they are not going away. I don’t want to abolish snacks, but why can’t they be healthy?

What happened to The Food Revolution. Did the 618, 274 people that signed it only sign up because it was the “thing” to do? Do they think it only counts at home? I’ve been told “it’s only one meal a day”. Well 1 meal a day x 9 months of school = about 180 meals. Morgan Spurlock only ate half that, 90 meals full of fat, sugar, HFCS, etc and he had weight gain and health issues. According to Keep Kids Healthy “Most kids get approximately 25 percent of their daily calories from snacks,“ TWENTY FIVE PERCENT. For a little body, that is a lot of food, an in the case of snack, empty calories and too much sugar. I’m not against an occasional treat for a holiday celebration or a birthday but Monday is not a reason for treats.

So now what? What is a mom to do?

There is not much concern, this year, at our preschool. They emphasis healthy snacks, have a strict list of snacks and the parents provide it on a weekly basis. Our new kindergarten however, doesn’t assign days. We are asked to bring in 20 servings at the beginning of the month. Well that doesn’t really encourage fresh wholesome snacks.

So I guess step 1 is to talk to the teacher. My husband is worried, he says I am too fired up about this (mostly since it’s his church he is afraid I will make a scene and embarrass him). I need to try to make a change, I need to offer help or solutions. Maybe I can put a note on nutrition and a list of healthy snack ideas in the parents box? Maybe I can offer to host a sign up calendar so we can pick specific days? If I could, if I had the means and the time I would just take over and provide snacks daily. I can’t. So I guess I will start with a simple opener “I have noticed that snacks seem to be heavy on the over processed and sugary and I’m wondering if there is something I can do to help encourage healthier options”

Since writing the above (I was pretty steamed and wanted to have a chance to re-read before posting). I have talked to several moms on Twitter who have had the same complaint. One said her school celebrated the harvest celebration with marshmallow fluff and runts. Really? None of that come from the harvest. Someone else brought up cost.

I’ll admit. If I shop at my local grocery, fruit for 20 kids is usually more expensive than other options, but it doesn’thave to be. So you can get a large container of goldfish on sale for $6.99 (regular $8.99). I went to a not so local fruit market and I was able to get two snacks for under $10. I got 2 pints of strawberries ($0.98/each) and 10 bananas ($0.39/lb) - sliced and served together, and 6lbs of apples (2 3lb bags/$4.00). If you check your sales you can do pretty well as well. As for time? Both snacks took me about 30min to prepare. Isn’t our kids health worth you taking 30min before school?

Even better then being able to provide these snacks was the reaction from the kids. When I brought in the big bowl of strawberries and bananas two of the little kids bounced down the hall all around me asking what it was and singing thank yous. The apples? My son said some of the kids thanked him so many times for bringing them in that he had to ask them to stop.

These kids are vulnerable. They are learning habits for life, shouldn’t we make them healthy habitats? Maybe if we served our kids fruits and veggies, they would learn to try, and like them. I know my kids are more likely to try something new or that they don’t like at school and with friends. To this day my son will only eat avocado and hummus at our friend L’s house, it apparently taste different there than at home.

So for now, I am going to provide fruit and veggies when I can. Going above my once a month requirement but not rocking the boat or embarrassing my husband. Hopefully other parents will be inspired by my snacks to change their habits. It may not be every week, I can’t get to that super affordable fruit market weekly, usually monthly. I can check the local ads and try to get something on sale, it’s worth the few extra cents to teach healthy habits.

What is snack like at your school? Am I alone in this?



Unknown said...

I completely and totally agree with you. We aren't in the position to need to deal with school and the snacks that are involved at this time, but my mother isn't much better. All she wants to do is give the kids garbage, because she knows they like the fruit snacks, licorice, and lollipops. I am certainly not the best at feeding my kids whats good for them, but since a recent trip to the pedi's office for my 18mo daughter's check up, I was told I need to "be more aware of what I feed my daughter" since she isn't really "leveling out" in weight like most kids do. I know some parents might take offense to that, but it was the reality check that I needed to feed her, and the rest of the family better foods and of higher quality. I am still learning what is best, and I try very hard to watch the sugar content in many things. We also aren't eating out as much and I am learning to cook healthy meals at home. My problem now is getting them to eat the better foods. I have found it best to just not have the junk in the house, so even if they want it, we just don't have it.
My hardest challenge is the juice. They don't like water, and I can't really give them CHOCOLATE milk all day, so if you don't mind me asking for a bit of advice, what would you recommend? I do water down the juice, but is that enough? Thanks Melissa, this is a really great post and I hope you don't mind if I use it as an inspiration for a post of my own? ;-)

Unknown said...

You know how I feel about this issue - I applaud you for rocking the boat. When I took fruit the last time to snack - it took going through a lot of red tape - but the kids thought it was awesome! They were so excited to eat pineapple, cantaloupe and bananas - you would have thought I was passing out cookies. I wish that every parent in our school had been there to see it - or that every kids went hope and told their parents!

I was disgusted to hear the lady in charge of food at our school say that the reason they serve junk is that some kids refuse to eat the healthy stuff.

Andrea said...

We're not in school yet here, but GOOD FOR YOU! Yes, we do give her some sweet and processed stuff at home, but my daughter could live off of strawberries, grapes, apples and avocados for that matter! YUMMY stuff! Yay for you!!!

Rose said...

Monday isn't a reason for snacks? My week is shattered! :0)

I find I'm grateful I don't yet have to deal with this. I'm wondering what your school would do if I brought my wheat/gluten sensitive children, would they then say goldfish and animal crackers are out? They get them weekly at church but I'm able to limit the rest of the week, I don't know if they could handle daily wheat snacks.

Good luck Melissa, I'm hope it works out, please keep me posted.

Shell said...

Thankfully, this year, my boys' schools went to individual snacks and not whole-class snacks. Too many allergies- so this way, they know that what each child eats is definitely safe for them.

Unknown said...

I'm on the opposite side as a teacher...this subject drives me nuts! (And I'm on your side!) I used to have snack time because our lunch time was pretty late for second graders. Even I was hungry! They brought in something of there own. No matter how many times I pushed for healthy snacks (daily reminders, a list, newsletters etc.), someone always brought in chips, cookies, crap, etc.) Ughhhh. Drives me batty just thinking about it. I couldn't win. Lucky for me that only lasted two years. I did away with "snack time" because our lunch hour changed. Problem solved and never had complaint! Lunch choices are another story but for the most part, that's out of my hands...

I've also had problems with treats (birthday) so I send treats home now. I have no problem celebrating birthdays (and we do in a different manner) but trying to pass out treats (and eating them) cuts into instructional time. That's an entirely different conversation. (The last straw for me was someone bringing in a full cake/ice cream/candles--SERIOUSLY???) By sending them home, the parents can decide what they want to do with it. As long as they don't get eaten on the bus though.... LOL. I'm sure that happens. I love when parents make goodie bags filled with small inexpensive toys. They are my best friends. LOL. Something to keep in mind if treats are a big deal at your school.

Good luck on your crusade. I bet the teacher wouldn't mind having you create a calendar. I'm sure the reason she does a monthly thing is because it's easier on her and snack time is the least of her worries. (Sorry...but it's true.) Now, if someone stepped up and set up a daily schedule...yeah. I don't know what the parent box is that you mentioned, but ehhhh, I wouldn't approach i that way. Sounds passive aggressive. Now, going into a discussion with a solution (calendar idea) would be perfect.

Hope this makes sense. Having a baby nearby is distracting. =) Good luck!

Crownd Vic said...

So I'm a 2nd grade teacher who has students with allergies in her class.
Here's how I handle food allergies:
1) bring your own. If you are too fearful of your child ingesting things they should not, then please provide me with enough snack for 2 weeks for them to eat.
2) allow the child to choose, either eat today's choice or pick something out of your lunchbox
3) tell them this is what we are eating and know that lunch is only an hour away.

Also, I have food allergies, so I GET that parents are wary of their child ingesting foods they shouldn't -- nor do I want anaphylactic (sp?)shock. However it's SO hard to take care of everyone!

Erin said...

Our preschool is the same way - we drop a box of snacks and a bottle of juice on our way in at the first of the month every month. They do encourage moms to bring in healthy snacks, we just have to coordinate with the teachers. So, it is a simple as asking them on Tuesday if I can bring in strawberries on Thursday.

Good luck!

This Heavenly Life said...

You are so not alone. I get so frustrated by the lack of healthy snacks, but at my preschool, they take it one step further: we are not allowed to bring in anything for mass consumption that isn't pre-packaged.

Birthday for you little one? Store-bought cake is allowed, homemade cupcakes (with 1/3 the pile of frosting on top) are illegal. Same goes with snacktime. If it's not prepackaged, it's out. If it came into contact with human hands, other than the rubber-gloved teachers', it's out. I do think they sometimes serve bananas, because those are 'packaged' naturally.'s pathetic.

I wonder what kindergarten will be like?

And I believe it that kids get so many of their vital calories from snacks. In fact, when considering if your child is getting the nutrition they need, doctors insist that snacks count in their daily allotments. HIGH reasons for making sure those calories are nutritious, and not just empty, crunchy, bagged snacks.

Sigh. Now I'm all worked up. Thanks a lot, Mel.


Allison @ Alli 'n Son said...

My son isn't in school yet, but I know what you are saying. All of the over processed jun that we feed our kids, and ourselves, is just so unhealthy. An apple or a handful of grapes tastes way better than salty, fake cheese goldfish.

Love that you are trying to better your kid's school. I hope they are willing to work with you.