Is it the teacher's place to comment on lunches?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by TexanTeach, May 2, 2015.

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  1. TexanTeach

    TexanTeach Rookie

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    Hi everyone,
    I've been having an internal struggle with myself over an issue I've been having with my para. In a nutshell, she is very critical of the type of snacks and lunches students get sent to school with, and thinks that I should be speaking to a lot of the parents about what type of foods their kids should be getting. For example, she asked that I let a parent know that their child really enjoys apples and if they could send her with an apple for a snack (she usually has snacks like cheese/crackers or a granola bar). I feel like it would almost be offensive to be telling parents something like this, and I don't want to create tension with them.

    For what it's worth, the kids I have all seem to be well taken care of - I don't have any concerns about their health or well being. It's just that my para is a big "health" type of person who hates the fact that kids have any type of sugary snacks or drinks, and wants me to steer parents away from these things. Which makes me uncomfortable.

    I personally feel like it's not my place to critique parents for the type of food they send (unless it's absolutely nothing but candy, or to the point it could be considered neglect). Has anyone here ever spoken to parents about the type of food they are sending, or feel like it's a teacher's place to maybe make the lunch choices healthier?
    Thanks!
     
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  3. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I would be very irritated with any teacher that told me how to feed my child. Even if I did send in candy. Or junk food once in a while. Like you said, unless it gets to the point where you suspect neglect, you shouldn't say anything.

    It is rather insulting and intrusive.
     
  4. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Adding - why ask about another apple? Children should be getting a variety. That suggestion doesn't even make sense to me.
     
  5. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I don't think there's anything wrong with casually mentioning that a child seems to enjoy snack time more when they have an apple than cheese/crackers. I wouldn't go into the health part though unless it either gets to the point of being ridiculous, or you make it a classroom policy (and at this point in the year, making it a class policy is too late).

    My grade level decided as a team to require snacks to be either a fruit or a vegetable, because last year, we had kids just bringing in candy bars as a snack. Our school is also pushing healthy eating in general. We haven't had any parents complain, and the kids have been pretty good about sticking to it. We just had to make sure parents knew up front. I know I've had a couple kids bring in chips a few times because they ate their apple during lunch, but at long as its an occasional slip-up, I don't make an issue of it.
     
  6. TexanTeach

    TexanTeach Rookie

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    The school had an event last week and they provided apple slices to the students afterwards. One of the girls ate her slices, so my para thought I should ask the parent to send apples as a snack because she thinks it's better than the 'pre-packaged' snacks the child normally gets (like cheese/crackers for example).
    While I agree that fruits/veggies are the healthier choice, I don't think I should be telling a parent how to feed their child.

    Another example is that a student in the class who is heavier had a piece of a pastry (can't remember what it was) about the size of a brownie. Everything else in her lunch was very healthy, like chicken, grapes and yogurt. The para told the student that she was not allowed to eat her desert and she could bring it back home, despite the student eating their healthy lunch first. I just feel like it's not our place to dictate what a child eats to that extent. If a parent decides to send them with a treat like that, I feel like that is their decision to make. But I also don't want to create a lot of tension with my para either, where I undermine her by going directly against something she just says.
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    The para needs to stay out of kids' lunches. Theres nothing wrong with cheese and crackers or granola bars or a piece of Danish for dessert. It sounds like your kids have lunches they like, that are convenient for families and are balanced enough to not warrant comment or intervention. Tell the para that given all the above, you are NOT getting involved in dictating to parents and that she would be well advised to leave parenting decisions up to parents. :2cents:
     
  8. 2ndTimeAround

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    Oh, I'd be all sorts of mad if a para or a teacher told my child they couldn't have the brownie I packed for them.

    Let's flip it around - the teacher doesn't like the art teacher for whatever reason. Maybe the art teacher stole the mother's high school boyfriend. Mom tells the child that under no circumstances is the child to go into the art teacher's room. She insists that the child not accompany the class when they go. Maybe she's afraid that the child will be treated unfairly although there is no past incident. Instead, Mom wants YOU to either keep her out of art or have you supply art instruction on your own. Would you appreciate having her dictate what happens in your classroom?

    Food is mommy's realm. Stay out of it.
     
  9. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    The only time I ever talked to a parent about what a child was eating was because the student was autistic and his meds messed with his appetite, so we were making note of things he did REGULARLY eat during the day when he wasn't normally hungry. But the parent asked, and it was medical and school performance related.

    Your students all sound like they're eating foods that are perfectly fine and your para needs to not worry about the kids' food. That's definitely the parents' concern unless they specifically ask you for advice on their kid's eating habits.
     
  10. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    It is not your business to comment on lunches parents pack for their child. Your para seems to not know where that boundary is, but it looks like you do. I would just ignore the para's comments and go on teaching.
     
  11. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    It's bad enough to have to deal with the state mandates for what can and can't be brought to school for things like birthdays and parties. I HATE being part of the "party police" who are reading labels to make sure that juice is above a certain level real juice, etc. Eating healthy is wonderful, but let para lead by example while keeping keeping her comments to herself, preventing judgmental comments that could create a rift with the parents. As someone who once had MY lunch criticized (Greek yogurt, low calorie) because it wasn't "all natural and therefore unhealthy", I can tell you it hurts. Later, when same nosy person became aware that I was now eating no lunch, I got lectured again. I simply stated that my first choice offended her, which offended me, so I no longer eat at school where my choices could be evaluated. She quit, and I am back to my yogurt. Words can hurt.
     
  12. YoungTeacherGuy

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    The only time I've ever talked to parents about their child's eating habits (or lack thereof) is as an administor. As s teacher, I was never in the lunch room.

    Over the two years I've been a VP, I've called a handful of parents to let them know that I noticed that their child isn't eating the school lunch (they either push food around, don't touch it at all, or throw away their entire tray of food). When I've phoned home, it's because I'm genuinely concerned. I offer tips such as packing a home lunch or sending the child with snacks they can enjoy during recess. The parents I've contacted have wholeheartedly thanked me for paying attention to their child and caring enough about their well-being to call home.

    I must say, though, that I would never comment on lunch items that a child brought from home--unless it was something "illegal" such as Flaming Hot Cheetos. Those are not allowed at any school in my town.
     
  13. otterpop

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    I wouldn't say anything. Cheese and crackers or a granola bar is nothing to complain about, anyway.

    I do have one boy who comes to me after eating poptarts for lunch and uses that as an excuse for misbehavior. "It's not my fault, I had a poptart for lunch, they make me hyper!" I did tell his mom about that comment.

    Some of my most poorly behaved boys bring total junk for lunch. Doritos, poptarts, snack cakes, sugary juice... I would never say anything, but I wish parents would think about the impact that may be having on their kids.
     
  14. otterpop

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    Why?
     
  15. YoungTeacherGuy

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  16. comaba

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    Has your para been in the district much longer than you? It seems that you're reluctant to take the lead when you probably should. By allowing her to do things like that, it appears you're condoning it, and that's not a good place to be if your district doesn't support it.

    Why not run this by your admin and find out if there's a policy in place regarding student lunches and snacks from home? If there's no policy, ask if you're supposed to monitor their lunches and make healthier suggestions to parents, or refuse to allow students to eat certain parts of their lunches. You don't have to mention your para.

    With the recent news stories of schools doing just that, I'd bet your admin would want to steer clear of that. If so (hopefully), then you can let the para know admin's stance. It shouldn't offend her that you wanted to verify the actions before proceeding.
     
  17. daisycakes

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    I live in CA -- a state very focused on healthy, healthy, healthy. So I have made comments and have seen many teachers make comments about snacks/lunches IN THE CONTEXT OF SST MEETINGS or 504s. I think it is appropriate to say, your kid has ADHD, please don't send him to school with a a bottle of coke and a 1lb bag of baker's chocolate chips for a snack! If students' behavior/attention/learning is a concern, then food can definitely play a part in that and letting parents know that is necessary. Another example -- I once saw a PE teacher ream a parent for sending her daughter to school each day with an entire box of girl scout cookies (She ate the whole box each day) and fried chicken and french fries for lunch. However, the parent had brought up that her daughter doesn't feel successful in PE and her growing weight was a factor in that. So, it seems like fair game to comment on food choices in those kinds of meetings.

    It does NOT seem fair to just randomly tell a parent at pick-up that they need to provide a certain snack or a healthy snack. If there is no overall concern about health/learning/welfare, then I would never bring it up. Also, cheese and crackers is NOT a bad snack at all compared to what I see out there every single day.
     
  18. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Come to California where we literally check every kid's lunch as they enter the lunchroom.

    And I teach Middle School.
     
  19. Jerseygirlteach

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    I'm not with them at lunch, but almost all my students have free lunch so they're eating the school lunch anyway. We have snack time, but we aren't allowed to let them eat certain things like cookies, chips, soda, and candy as a snack in the morning. Some parents will send it in anyway, no matter how many times I tell them.
     
  20. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    This.
     
  21. TexanTeach

    TexanTeach Rookie

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    Thank you everyone for the responses!
    I feel better knowing other teachers seem to feel the way that I do.
    Just to elaborate, I have NOT been telling the parents to send different snacks or criticizing them. It's just getting tough because my para is very strong-willed and will continue to push things, so it's multiple times a week I'm having her comment to me that so-and-so should have fruit in their lunch, or that I should start calling parents, or send home a letter with suggested healthy snacks, etc.
    So while I'm sticking to my guns (and have politely said more than once that I'm not comfortable telling parents how to pack a lunch, or feel that it's not my place to do so) it gets hard when it's such a frequent thing, especially because it creates a bit of tension when she tells me one thing and I flat out don't do it or tell her I disagree.
    I know that other teachers who have worked with this para in the past have clashed with her A LOT because of her forceful nature, and I really want to keep things in the classroom as peaceful as possible, while not doing things I don't agree with a the same time.
     
  22. Ms. I

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    To answer your main question, no, it's not the teacher's job to influence what kinds of foods kids should be eating. Teachers have a job to do & that's to teach academics. Of course, if one is a health teacher, they can try to do/say as much as they can to promote good health & positive lifestyles.

    Sure, in a perfect world, there would be no junk food, no sodas (& no alcohol or drugs for that matter in addition to a whole lot of other things).

    If a teacher starts lecturing/dictating about what kids should be eating, then I can see it now, parents of other cultures will start to be offended & telling the teacher that he/she isn't knowledgeable about (for example) the typical Indian's diet or the typical ___'s diet. And that's opening more cans of worms.
     
  23. TeacherNY

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    I would tell the para that the school does not advise teachers to contact parents about such things. The parents should know what to feed their children to keep them healthy. We have enough things to worry about so I certainly wouldn't take on the job as the students' nutrition advisor.
     
  24. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I've contacted a parent or two over sack lunches. Once was when I noticed the child never ate anything he brought, other than the snack cake. He threw everything else away. The other was a child who told me he packed his own lunch each day. Every day was a candy bar, snack cake, and pudding. Mom worked nights and grandma took care of the mornings. Each thought the other saw him pack it. Both times I made it clear to the parents that I thought they might want to know, not that I was passing judgement. Both times it was well received.
     
  25. 2ndTimeAround

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    As a parent, I would appreciate those calls too.
     
  26. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    In a perfect world, one wouldn't be judgemental of the choices others make in moderation. :rolleyes:
     
  27. Ms. I

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    Sure, good if EVERYONE was smart enough to use all things in moderation or knew not to use things that were harmful to their bodies, but they're not. :rolleyes:
     
  28. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Who gets to be the food police? There are those who would moderate much of the free choice we have. :rolleyes:
     
  29. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    My answer is yes, we do have a right to talk to parents about the food their kids bring to school.

    What if a kid brings a full size bag of Hot Cheetos and expects to either eat the entire bag at first recess and/or share it with classmates?

    Or a kid with a cinnamon bearclaw the size of his head?

    Or enough candy that if I ate it in one sitting, I'd be bouncing off the walls for the next 73 minutes until I crashed.

    Each of the above happens ALL THE TIME at my school and nobody feels they have the power to do anything about it. And yet, each of these horrible food habits has a very direct and adverse effect on student learning.

    Moreover, they often bring snacks in such huge quantities that they share them with select classmates. This causes bitterness and resentment among the kids who don't get a cut. And that leads to conflicts that I then have to deal with when the kids come into my room.
     
  30. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    This. I have called home when I notice lunches aren't getting eaten or if the child is signed up for the milk program (which parents pay for) and the child isn't drinking the milk. Then parents know not to waste their $$$ signing up for lunch programs.

    I have also contacted a parent before when they were sending a can of Pepsi every day in the lunch. I didn't contact them until the 4th day in a row. I simply suggested they send a water bottle instead so their child could keep the bottle on his desk to stay hydrated. They were happy with the suggestion and the cans of Pepsi (which spilled every. day.) stopped coming to school.
     
  31. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Many schools that I've been at have not allowed sodas in lunches. I think this is a good policy.
     
  32. TeacherNY

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    If there's a policy in place and the student's lunch violates the policy then I would obviously say something. All of my students eat the school lunch so thank goodness I don't have to worry about it.
     
  33. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    We have a'nutrition policy' yet I absolutely refuse to police the occasional cupcake. Life's short. Eat a cookie or cake every now and again:2cents:
     
  34. YoungTeacherGuy

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    No junk food? A few months (or maybe years???) ago you specifically mentioned using Amazon to purchase several bags of chips that were no longer available in stores.

    Personally, I firmly believe it's not my place to say whether or not people can enjoy a glass of wine or a soda with their meal.
     
  35. YoungTeacherGuy

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    :thumb:
     
  36. John Lee

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    Nobody is food police. But the fact is that some people (grown adults) are too stupid to know better, and if you think of it that way... (while I wouldn't say its a "teacher's" place to comment, shouldn't compassionate, thoughtful adults tell others how atrocious their food choices are?
     
  37. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Uh, no. As to students, I would never want to insult their families' eating habits and possibly shame a child. It is a health issue that should be brought up in health class, unless it becomes illegal to eat a Twinkie...
     
  38. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    :spitwater: And let's imagine that being an adult beverage, responsibly enjoyed, in this smilie glass.
     
  39. Ms. I

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    True & I didn't need it. I ended up giving most away to others since the exp dates was all the same. I never said I don't slip up sometimes w/ eating foods I shouldn't. Again, CERTAIN things in moderation.

    With these kids these days, I don't know about you guys, I see more child obesity. If it were up to me, no kid would be exposed as a kid eating, junk foods, sodas, etc., so they can at least start off w/ a good foundation as their bodies are developing & growing. Now whether they get into eating badly in their teens, etc. is tougher to stop.
     
  40. gr3teacher

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    And by certain things, you mean things you personally think are okay?
     
  41. MissCeliaB

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    I hope this was sarcastic. I would never assume it's my place to tell anyone what they should be doing, because I know how hurtful it can be. I would also never assume that people are "too stupid" for anything. Different cultures have different values and eat different ways.

    For example, one day a woman came up to me in the parking lot of the grocery store as I was unloading my groceries, and told me that I really should be using reusable grocery bags, and I should not be drinking diet soda. Excuse me? Is she my doctor? I like to get plastic grocery bags because then I do not have to buy plastic bags for picking up dog poop or for small loads of trash. If I want to have a diet Cherry Dr. Pepper in the afternoon after lunch everyday as a treat, that isn't anyone's business, especially not some stranger in a parking lot. I tend to mind my own business unless asked for advice, and wish others would do the same.
     
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