Fierce Mommy: The Junk Food Suspension


A blogumn by Stephanie Myers

Junk Food Gets Suspended From Massachusetts’s Schools

The topic of junk food in schools seems to appear on the radar once in a while, usually in response to some study or other, only to fade into semi-obscurity again with the new news cycle.  Now a change in school policy has brought the subject up again.

Cupcake a school district in Massachusetts, apparently frustrated by parents sending kids off with candy and other less than healthy options for snack-time, has decided to ban any and all junk food from school grounds. I’m not sure how violators are to be punished, but somehow anything at all seems a bit much.  Zero tolerance for junk food?  Detention for bringing birthday cupcakes?

I don’t mean to make light of the matter. Take a look at any school, any grade level, and you know that the alarms being raised about rising levels of childhood obesity are true. A large part of that responsibility lies with, of course, the parents.  For their part many schools took things into their own hands by, for instance, restocking vending machines with healthier options and making changes to cafeteria menus. (My daughter Jillian’s elementary school is among them)

The Massachusetts district released the final draft of the new wellness policy and the guidelines include bans against food for parties of any kind, fund-raising events, and also from the snacks parents provide themselves.

I personally tend to be more restrictive with my kids about candy and treats. My kids don’t have candy unless it’s Easter, Halloween, Christmas, or their birthday. They don’t drink soda. They don’t eat ice cream or cookies on a daily basis. My kids have grown up regarding treats as just that – treats …that are enjoyed as being a nice break from the daily norm.

Then again, that’s how I have chosen to handle my kid’s nutrition. While I don’t necessarily agree with a parent that considers a candy bar or a bag of Cheetos a “healthy snack,” it’s not my place to judge. It’s not up to me or anyone for that matter to define what “junk food” is for everyone else. That’s not my kid.

Tinted Green pointed out on their blog, “When my daughter was growing up I never allowed her to have white bread. In my opinion white bread is junk food. So are most processed fruit juices and many protein bars. So who decides what is junk?” point? What constitutes ‘junk food’ can be in the eye of the beholder.

I’ve met more than my share of moms who run a broad spectrum when it comes to their “food philosophy”. Ask any mom what she thinks proper nutrition means to her and she will expound on her well thought out plan for her child’s nutritional health. That could mean tofu dogs. It could mean giving them whatever the heck they want.

Changing the vending machine fare and revamping cafeteria offerings with options that are better for kids are definite things schools and districts can do to promote healthy eating. Jillian’s school is definitely one of them. Yet you still have to wonder, how much say does someone else get in how and what you feed your child? I for one don’t have a real problem with the mom who treats her kid to a cookie at snack-time or sends cupcakes for a birthday.

Then again my mom gave me pixie sticks, so what do I know.

Photo Credits: Cupcakes – Holly Clark; Pixie Sticks – Wayne/