18 answers

Ideas for Healthy Alternatives to Donuts for Zero the Hero Day

Hello Mamas,

My daughter started Kindergarten this year, and although we are extremely happy with the school she goes too, we are really troubled by the amount of junk food that enters the classroom almost everyday.
It's M&Ms for Maths lessons, candies for being a good listener, cupcakes for birthdays, Applebee's vouchers for extra good listeners, and donuts for Zero the Hero Day !!!!
I thought that school was for learning but it seems that there is also an awful lot of eating going on as well.
I am having a real problem with that. Why would I bother giving healthy food to my daughter at home if my efforts are to be counteracted by the school?
As I don't want my daughter to be singled out, I contacted the teacher and suggested her to get in touch with the parents and ask them to bring healthier snacks for the entire class. I am now to come up with a list of appropriate snacks for Zero the Hero Day. So far, here is what I found:
- mini bagels (several flavors)
- bracelets of popcorn or dried fruits
- plain Cheerios or honey and nut cheerios
- zero shaped sandwiches made with cookie cutters and filled with either butter and jam, peanut butter, apple butter or Nutella
Do you, Mamas, have any more ideas?
Did any of you have to deal with the same problem and what did you do?
Thanks for your input.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Why does everything have to be food, why not stickers, or small toys that come in a pack,bookmarkers,stamps.There are lots of things out there to reward a child with other than food. My daughters pre-K teacher has a chest they get to pick out of. An she was comin home with a lizard every time she got to pick out of it. She told me there is lots of things in the chest even candy.But she jus choose not to pick the candy, an the toys would last longer anyway. To me the problem would be that she is usin food as an reward not the food she is givin them. With a lot of people usin food as a way to deal with certain problem. Cuase let me have a bad day,a drownin it with the chocolate, an icecream. ( smile)

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More Answers

I know this has already been mentioned but I just wanted to stress the fact that laws have been made stating that food must meet certain nutrition guidelines. I taught 8th grade for several years and we were not allowed to give out candy, chips or anything of non-nutritional value. I am sure that it is the same for kindergarten. I would definitely talk to the teacher and/or the school administration to find out if she is going against those rules.

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Please be highly sensitive to the nut allergy thing! My son's class does not allow any nut to enter the classroom (there is a child in either his class or the neighboring class that has a nut allergy)...and that means no peanut butter or nuts. This allergy can have severe consequences if the child touches it! So double check that there are no kids with nut allergies.

Also, I'm really surprised that they are allowing CANDY in the classroom!! I received many mass flyers home stating that no candy can be sent with children in their lunchboxes...or high sugar products (like even high sugar drinks or cookies!) My son is in Pre-K at a Plano ISD early childhood school. So they might follow stricter guidelines. But I know that the teacher has told us parents that they really prefer no sweets at all because it creates extremely hyper, non-focused students in the classroom.
Usually, teachers hate to have any sweets in the classroom because of the sugar rushes and sugar crashes they create!
You might point that out to the teacher so she'll be more on board with your plan...just lean heavily on the point that she'll have better focused, less hyper students with the sweets out of the classroom.
Putting kids names on a posterboard...and placing stickers on it for rewards works so well, especially in a peer-environment...it gets competitive with the kids.

How about fruit salad and those baby quiche things instead of donuts? Kids LOVE fruit salad! I (or some other parent) always brings a fruit salad to my son's class parties and the kids eat that up!! they especially love the watermelon, ripe cantaloupe, grapes, cut up (and peeled) apples, mandarin oranges, strawberries.

I think cupcakes on bdays are OK, but just for bdays. Bdays are so special! But candy in the classroom! -- wow, I was shocked when I read that. I'd be scolded by my son's teacher if he had candy even in his pocket!! scolded, in a good way. :-)

1 mom found this helpful

Why does everything have to be food, why not stickers, or small toys that come in a pack,bookmarkers,stamps.There are lots of things out there to reward a child with other than food. My daughters pre-K teacher has a chest they get to pick out of. An she was comin home with a lizard every time she got to pick out of it. She told me there is lots of things in the chest even candy.But she jus choose not to pick the candy, an the toys would last longer anyway. To me the problem would be that she is usin food as an reward not the food she is givin them. With a lot of people usin food as a way to deal with certain problem. Cuase let me have a bad day,a drownin it with the chocolate, an icecream. ( smile)

1 mom found this helpful

Don't dried Apples come in rings too? Alot of the things on the list are better than candy, but they aren't stellar health items either.

I wish I could think of some veggies that come in circles. You could make sweet potatoe fries ( I bake ours) but instead of the long finger shape you could slice into circles and when cooked you could cut out the middle with an apple corer (like from Pampered Chef). You could core cucumbers too. Sliced cukes would be a nice snack.

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When I taught Kdg. I used a pretzel stick with something circle shaped for zero the hero so the children had to learn the place value of the 1 and the zero ex. pretzel stick 1 first then the zero. Sprouts in flower mound has some great circle shaped dried fruit and organic wafers etc.
Just express your concerns to the teacher and I am sure she will try harder to make better choices :)
www.livetotalwellness.com/texas for info on safer alternatives for your family

1 mom found this helpful

I thought it was a state mandate that foods given to students must meet nutrious guidelines, and the only "free" days were two party days a year. For example, popsicles can no longer be served, but frozen fruit bars or ice cream made with milk. Our school also no longer allows cupcakes for birthdays, or bringing fast food to your student at lunch. My daughter's teacher rewards students with a coupon for things such as "sit with a friend from a different class at lunch", "no shoes in class", and "extra computer time".

1 mom found this helpful

Oh My Goodness! I agree with the other ladies! I don't think they should be given that much junk food at all. And, I do believe public schools have "food rules". Be careful with the peanut butter. Big allergen. My son is allergic, so I know that will put some kids at risk. I also know that some districts have put a stop to peanut products. My daughter is in kindergarten. In the beginning of the school year, a letter went out with healthy snack suggestions. All the parents are sending wonderful, healthy snacks for the children. They do get treats once in a while. And I do treats at home. Good for you!!!! I do believe in balance, but it sounds like your child's teacher is overdoing it. I bet you many other parents feel the same.

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I've taught high school Spanish for the past 7 years but am taking off this year to stay at home with my new baby. I know high school is different than elementary school, but it seems that all students like to be rewarded. I know that my students loved earning free hall tickets, pencils, erasers, or homework passes. I did pass out Lifesavers once in a while, but the "inedible" rewards seemed to work much better. For snacks, I think that some of the other suggestions would be alright - like Cheerios, but I hope that your teacher also rewards the students with non-food things.

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You are to be applauded for your ideas and efforts and concern. The advice from the last person is excellent -- you are on the right track -- sounds like you have a big job ahead of you. You could get Kiwis and slice and then cut a whole in the slice with a round cutter -- or sliced olives -- a lot of kids like black olives. There are a ton of things that can be made to look like a zero that you don't have to eat even...nuts(bolts) at hardware stores. Ck out the hobby stores too.

Hope the teacher doesn't take the offensive --- try to keep her on your side -- encourage her alot -- she maybe never learned healthy eating and is just copying the way she was taught to reward with food etc. (is she healthy ... ummm overweight?) she may be dealing with long time needs for comfort and appreciation -- the only way she gets it is food maybe?

Keep up the good work!

1 mom found this helpful

Considering how food allergies have become much more prevalent over the past decade, I can't believe schools are still willing to risk the liability of passing out snacks to children. There are so many other ways to reward kids, and better messages to send than the "food as reward" method. I'd discuss this with the principal, then the school board at the next meeting.
Since you're already on the hook with Zero the Hero Day, you could get some of the flavored mini-rice cakes, get some of those turkey and cheese stackers that are round w/ Ritz crackers, english muffin "pizzas" with a little sauce, mozzerella & veggies.

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There are strict guidelines about public schools/teachers giving junk food. Check out...


The school I work at follows these rules very closely...sounds like your school may need a reminder. :)

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Hey, F.,
I am with you on thinking there is too much junk food in your daughter's school! (Also, what happens if the children have an allergy to a food that is brought in...i.e., peanuts!! YIKES!!! Or a child in the class who is diabetic??)

Instead of thinking what the school is doing to counteract what you are feeding your child, why not think of it as YOU counteracting what the school is feeding your child??

I think it is SAD that the teacher put it on YOU to come up with the list of HEALTHY foods for the kids to receive as "rewards" for their lessons, when it appears that she does not care about the health of the children in her care. (If she feels they have to be "rewarded", why not use stickers or special privileges for the things she wants the kids to accomplish??)

You didn't mention if your child is going to a public school or private school, but if it IS a public school, then the teacher is in violation of a lot of the new laws that have recently been passed to get our children to eat healthier. Maybe you should contact the district's administrative offices and discuss the issue with them.

Personally, since my child has a form of Autism, and I have a nephew that has Asperger's syndrome, and know a LOT of kids with allergies, diabetes (myself), or gluten/lactose, etc intolerance, I would find myself withdrawing my child from the school for fear of a MAJOR MEDICAL DISASTER.

Hope you can get this straightened out, or find another school for your daughter, and soon!!!

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I thnk this is aweful. The first grade teachers my granddaughter had wanted healthy foods and in a box where she could shell it out easier. Things they can eat fast and not take all day. What about obses kids and USDA approved and also Dibetic kids? I would address that one to the principle. From what I understand they are cutting coke machines from High School. The can have things like carrots and celery sticks. Granola bars,Triscuts, Prescels,whole grain crackers,grahmcrackers.cheese sticks. Good Luck. I was so mad at other parents that when I cut out candy the ote other kids brought it to school for her. My children were not fat but they ket enough during holidays and stuff. Birthday parties. I was told do not bring cupcakes then others did. G. W

Graham crackers, ants on a stick, tortillia rolls

My daughter goes to Hurst and they have a no sweey policy for snacks. She take crackers, cheese nips, go-gurt, trailmix, the granola bars, individual packages of chips, nilla waffers, 100 calorie packs, graham crackers, Florida Naturual 100% fruit bits (gummy type snack). As rewards they do get the free meal certificates for resturaunts, which is healthier than a fast food place. They get "Bulldog Bicks" which they can turn in for things like, lunch with the teacher, a surprise gift (never candy), teacher wears her clothes backwards the next day, free pass on a test, etc.

Way to go Mom! I like your alternatives.

Your snack ideas are good and it's okay to suggest other foods, however... lighten up. If your daughter has to eat healthy at home all the time,than an occasional "treat" at school won't harm her. The teachers know what motivates the children and if it help make things exciting at school, than you should respect their expertise. Besides, if it's a public school, the district regulates what the kids can have and they are very strict.
One other note, I know of many children that have learned to "sneak" candy or even "steal" candy, because they are never treated by their parents. Be careful to balance their health with their happiness.

Hi F.,
Our Kindergartners might go to the same school because we have had the same concerns! I did speak with the teacher and also the principal. I am a pediatric therapist and I have to admit that before I had kids of my own, I used to give the kids candy for rewards or treats! Now that I have my 2 boys, I would NEVER do that! I think that it is just voicing our opinion and sharing education and alternative ideas - just like you've done! All too often, parents don't speak up and I think it's easy for teachers to get into a routine of giving those things out without thinking about it, or realizing the consequences (both immediate and long term). I know our teachers LOVE the kids and would never do anything intentional to harm them, so maybe just providing education and healthy ideas is just the help they need! I also have a wellness and nutrition business and will be providing some nutrition education at my son's school. I have a feeling we're at the same place. If you'd like to answer me back maybe we can get in touch and start to make a difference together!
Best of luck!

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