Snickers Bars for Sale at Elementary School

Updated on August 20, 2010
L.A. asks from Oxford, MS
18 answers

Ok I mentioned this in the comments section of a blog post, but I'm so steamed up about it I thought I'd mention it here. My daughter, 4th grade, came home from school yesterday and asked if she could bring extra money to buy a SNICKERS ICE CREAM BAR at lunch today. I live in Mississippi, where we have the highest rate of childhood AND adult Type II diabetes and highest rates for childhood and adult obesity in the nation (no surprise, since those two go hand-in-hand). My kids eat a pretty varied and healthy diet, for the most part, but it's a struggle to get them to do that, especially when such temptations are offered to them in their school! This is not a once-a-month special treat-- they are for sale every day in the cafeteria. And that's just what she mentioned-- there may be Cheetos and Twinkies there too, for all I know. Am I overreacting? So far, no one I've mentioned this to seems remotely concerned about it. I don't want to be 'that mom' that launches a one-woman crusade against deliciousness if this is not the big deal I'm making it out to be.
Addendum:
I should have added that I work in healthcare and I see these sweet kids every day on the road to at the very least a lifetime of being overweight. I just left the exam room of a 5-year old who is morbidly obese already and he was eating a bag of Lay's chips during his exam! I really am not a food Nazi; at my house we have chips and candy (even the occasional Snickers!) and like I said, both my kids actually make pretty good choices. But again, I think it undermines our attemps to get children this young (elementary school) to make good choices. I really am more concerned about this as a policy than as it applies to my own children. Does that make sense? I guess if you could see the VAST number of people in my area who are clearly suffering the consequences of a poor diet it might make more sense. Only in high school did we have 'snack' options. There were vending machines and even a concession stand, but they were only available during the last break of the day. And everyone abided by that rule, and no one starved to death. And only 2 of my classmates had diabetes. AND ANOTHER ADDENDUM: THANK YOU BETSY C. FOR THE JAMIE OLIVER LINK! I'm only a couple of minutes into it and had to come back to say thank you-- this is the best pep talk I could've gotten, as I thought my concerns were falling on deaf ears! Y'all all go watch this for your kids :)http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jamie_oliver.html

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your replies! I am buoyed by those of you who think I'm on the right track, and I'm likewise inspired to keep things in perspective by those of you who recommend that I not go in guns blazin'! It is SO GREAT to hear from other moms, in other places. Y'all are awesome-- thanks!
Two other moms (count 'em--TWO) replied to an email I sent just to guage the interest level. However, I did not cast a wide net, as I wanted to get the initial reactions of a few folks I felt might be on either side of the issue. I watched Jamie Oliver's TED presentation and it's so inspiring. Then I read an article about how his 'experiement' in WV fell flat eventually. Then I read that the reason it fell was because our govt standards are so antiquated that they can't be met realistically, and so on. Once I started peeling back the layers I realized how daunting this is, for everyone (including school administrators). So maybe I'll just start with the frivolous ice cream and see what happens. And I'm taking to heart the advice some of you gave me about being careful what I wish for--it's true that so many schools don't even allow birthday treats, etc., because of programs like this gone amok.

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M.L.

answers from Houston on

I live in Texas, and, yes, we are allowed one "party" a year before the holidays. We can bring cup cakes and such. I sent cookies for my daughter's birthday also.

Aside from that, I do not think you are overreacting. Childhood obesity and diabetes is getting crazy, and, I don't think it should be offered at school. Even if you don't send the money, whose to say that a friend won't get her one when you don't know? How do you know that it won't happen more than you would like?

They have the opportunity to eat junk when their parents allow it. I don't think it is too much to ask to keep the temptations away from them when you are not around to monitor the choices she is making.

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R.D.

answers from Washington DC on

I guess you can't conrol what they are selling, but I agree they should not sell it everyday. Especially becaise of the peanuts. I mean that in itself would scare most school to stay away from that stuff. When I buy ice cream bars for at home, i get the WW ones...they taste almost the same but are not NEARLY as bad for you. I would call the school though and find out why in the world they are doing that. I know In MD at least they took all sugary drinks out of the machines - so it's nice!

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L.A.

answers from Austin on

Don't give your daughter the money to purchase any of it.
If other parents complain, tell them the same. If kids and parents stop purchasing it, they will not sell them.

In the State of Texas, cupcakes for birthdays are not even allowed anymore.. EVER.. so be careful what you wish for or you will end up like us.. No treats for any reason for the kids. No Christmas cookies, no candy canes, no Halloween candy at the school carnivals.

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C.M.

answers from Austin on

I know how you feel. The food that is offered at the schools here is terrible. You shouldn't feel bad about being "that mom". This is for the good of the kids and their parents, who may not know what is going on. I would make a big deal out of it. There is no reason that candy and ice cream should be for sale at an elementary school. Do they give them soda, too?
I would talk to the administrators and if you don't get a response then talk to your congressman. Michelle Obama is starting an anti-obesity campaign so I'm sure that your concerns will be acknowledged.
Good job, mom.

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B.C.

answers from Joplin on

If you watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution you would know you were not over reacting...the sad thing is for every one or two momma's out there that are appalled at the idea of what the schools are serving to our innocent easily influenced children there are another handful that either don't care or are more interested in the money it generates for the school by having it there. I would tell any person who was concerned to go look at the lunch service offered at their child's school and decide for themselves whether it was an environment that promoted healthy choices and had healthy options available, and if they didn't you are darn right I would be up there working to "crusade against deliciousness" = )
You sound like a great momma! = )

Here is the link to the TED talk Jamie Oliver gave...it is so worth watching! I think every parent should watch his TED talk and his show Jamie Oliver's Food revolution
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jamie_oliver.html

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A.G.

answers from Houston on

you have to pick your battles, this is not the worst thing that can be happening

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E.R.

answers from Chicago on

I have to say, I disagree with moms who say you should 'tone it down' - I say they should be more concerned about having healthy kids at the school!

I am so tired of moms who say " well, the food is bad, but school food is always bad' - like it is MEANT to be that way, and that somehow makes it ok.

I am so tired of moms who say " well, I pack little Susie's lunch everyday because I am a good mom! If other moms were GOOD MOMS and did the same thing, it wouldn't be an issue" Don't they get it that not everyone may be as lucky as they are? The number of kids in really 'nice' neighborhoods and schools who live in 'food-insufficient' households is growing all the time, due to layoffs, foreclosures, etc. You may not know it, but that school meal may be the only hot meal your neighbor's kid gets all day.

Being a mom at a school should mean wanting to help and make things better for ALL the kids, IMO. If more parents insisted on healthy food choices to their Districts, then the districts would DEMAND healthier food from their contract providers- it can absolutely be done and for the same amount of money being spent now.

The issue is that unfortunately the food providers aren't going to do a thing to feed your kids healthy foods without being financially MADE to do so. So it IS up to parents to make that happen and you will never get that done by being complacent and not speaking your mind. You may even find that there are a lot more parents who agree with you, but were waiting for someone to speak up.

I think having Snickers and soda in school is completely wrong. If you want to feed treats to your kids at home, great. But they have no place in a school situation.

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M.R.

answers from Columbus on

Lala,

I just finished up as the PTO president at my duaghter's school for the last two years. We had such a "brigade" at our school, and you should tone it down or you will be "that Mom" even if you have company. It was especailly difficult to deal with them because our district has already been responsive to reasonable efforts to improve the food choices our children have at school. That was not good enough, and they wanted to ban all white sugar from every classroom party and birthday treats. Don't go there, you will be driving the crazy train, and you don't want to.

Our district had a well run bunch of like minded parents who went about making things better in a good way, the "brigade" came into the district after these people made good progress, and still found issues, because at some point, this crusade becomes unreasonable, so be careful. About 6 years ago, the reasonable bunch found each other and mangaged to make positive changes. They approached the board of education in a very business like way, and made a proposal (in the way the board hears requests- a copy of that policy is avaliable from your school district and you must play by their rules) that all the sugary drinks, candy, icecream, etc. be removed from the vending machines, and that healthy alternatives be added, like water, juice, or low calorie beverages, and nuts, or jerkey replaced the candy and chips. At the same time, they asked that the snacks available at the cafeterias include healthy alternatives. There are only a few items that could be viewed as "bad" available now in our cafeterias, and the vending machines are out of all the elementary schools completely, and the only ones turned on during school hours at the high school and middle school contain only healthy choices. There are a couple of machines with junk in them that are only turned on after school hours, so our kids cannot choose coke and chips for lunch anymore.

If you were talking about a PTO/PTA fundraising sale of such items, this would be a once in a blue moon kind of offering, in most cases, but this sounds like it is a regular cafeteria stocked item, which you have ultimate control over. In the long run, you decided what your child eats, even at school. If you do not like what the cafeteria offers, pack her lunch and do not give her money to buy things that you do not approve of.

In my understanding, the overall content of a regular school lunch is regulated by federal guidlines of fat, calories, protien content, etc. School cafeterias can offer the extras, and what is stocked for sale in cafeterias, as well as the availablity of vending items, is a decision that is made at the district level, under board of education control. You can do something to change that, but if you don't want to come off as "that Mom" quit blogging, ranting, and talking about your outrage, and tone it down such that you can attract more like minded (and maybe even much less outraged, but more middle of the road, individuals) and find out how to approach your board of ed. If you are not "that Mom" when you organize your group and present to the board, they will take you seriously, but if you are, you are dead in the water.

I can tell you though, if you say something to your principal, the PTO/PTA, or your cafeteria workers, or spend time ranting about it at school pick up, you will be "that Mom" and we will see you coming and dread it. None of these people has anything to do with the issue anyway.

M.

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B.

answers from Augusta on

I do think you are over reacting. Unless the school is actually feeding these things everyday to the kids in their lunches then you shouldn't freak out about it.
It's up to the children and the parents of the children to make the right choices for themselves. It is their responsibility not the schools. They are just available for them to purchase as an extra thing. If it's like my kids school you can't use your meal card for ice cream. I cream for dessert does not an over weight person make its many many things combined that do.

Get all the facts before you react or over react.

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G.W.

answers from Orlando on

To answer your question, yes, I think you are a bit too fired up. There's got to be a little give and take, a few can't dictate what everybody else should or should not consume. This should be an issue with each family, if you want your kid to have it, then send the extra money, if not, then don't. My daughter who is now 12 and going in the 7th grade has only been allowed to buy icecream or chocolate chip cookies on Fridays...she said there are some kids that buy it every day and that's fine with me, that's their right given their parents are obviously funding it. For my daughter, I've simply explained that yes, it's not the healthiest thing to eat it every day but once a week is perfectly fine, no one has ever gotten obese eating one icecream a week so it's ok in my book. I have known some women that micromanage their children's diets and honestly, I feel sorry for their kids. It's not a pleasant exchange to look at. I'm not saying you do that but it seems like you're pretty fired up about this topic of icecream for sale. Best wishes on working this out with your little girl :-)

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A.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

Frankly, who cares if you are "that mom" if you do what you feel is right. Parenthood is not a popularity contest. I would not be happy if these were sold every day at my kids' elementary school. I know you can control it for your own daughter somewhat by not giving her money for this rich treat every day, but still. I wouldn't want kids that young exposed to that temptation all time. Lord knows, mine would probably scour the house for couch cushion change and substitute one these big treats for a meal. Is this a fundraiser or just an a la carte cafeteria item? I would voice your concern about these being an "everyday" option to the principal, school district food services, or whatever organization provides these ice cream treats. Most parents I know would agree with YOU, it isn't necessary to have that available all the time.

I sympathize with your concern. I think part of the problem is that for me as a parent, I would like to give my child and my family the occasional ice cream treat, but struggle with even offering any kind of family dessert or special treat because they are so inundated at school with birthday cupcakes, holiday parties cookies, end of project parties, popsicle treats, candy as rewards, pizza parties (I swear they do this for EVERY classroom contest, and who needs pizza as a mid-day party snack anyway!) it is easy to forget how many treats kids get just in their day to day lives. Good luck in speaking out!

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D.W.

answers from Indianapolis on

Yes, I do think you're over-reacting a bit.

My career has been spent in the Diabetes field. For over 8 years, I sold insulin and other injectible diabetes medications, provided items to pediatric endocrinologists who are being flooded with patients with type 2 diabetes. 1/3 children born in this current generation are expected to be obese and develop diabetes, they are not expected to have the same life expectancy as us.

However, I firmly believe that it's our role as parents, not the school's role to set an example of healthy eating. I watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, and I agree with offering healthier options vs. processed foods. I also grew-up taking my lunch to school because I really didn't care for the cafeteria food nor did my parents want to spend the money.

So, as a parent, I think you have the option to tell your daughter no or yes depending on if you want to allow her to have an occasional treat. I certainly wouldn't condone it each day.

Most dieticians will tell you that it's OK for anyone (including anyone with diabetes) to have an occasional treat. Withholding them only makes people want it more. So, if she's been really good with homework, housework, manners, etc. and you think she deserves a treat at school once/month, I say yes.

Despite both being working parents, we cook meals from scratch every evening and try to make them as healthy as possible. We have no control over what they get at Day Care which is usually horrible, but I can control what they have in the mornings, at dinner, and on the weekends.

Good luck. I do applaud you for knowing the statistics and being concerned for your child's well-being.

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A.P.

answers from Boston on

I love those things! They were also sold in my high school along with many other unhealthy treats. Since your daughter is only in 4th grade and doesn't have money of her own, don't give her money to buy those treats and tell her why, or just do it once in a blue moon (everyone deserves a treat every now and then). Just because its there doesn't mean you have to eat it, and you can't remove every temptation from your daughter's life. Someday she will be able to walk into a store and see candies and chips galore and she'll even have her money to buy that stuff. Teach her how to turn those things down most of the time.

At such a young age you still control 95 percent of her diet, especially if you pack a lunch for her everyday. So I wouldn't worry too much about the temptation being there, just like when she's a teenager and confronts peer pressure teach her to just say NO! You must have taken your kids to the supermarket before, there are all kinds of goodies everywhere, it is always a no, except once in a while when we all need some sugary goodness. I don't agree with trying to ban all goodies from school.

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A.S.

answers from Denver on

If no one speaks up for fear of being "that mom" then the issue would never be discussed and whatever idiot brought Snickers Ice Cream bars into a grade school would continue to do so. And when it becomes commonplace to see ice cream candy treats, what's next? And who will speak up to say it's not OK?

I think you need to talk to a few other like minded parents, mention it to the principal then go to the Board of Education. Unfortunately, you have a raft of statistics working in your favor, especially being in Mississippi. If things are said with a positive spin and that positive change is a 'good thing' you can be very effective. Good Luck!!!

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M.M.

answers from Chicago on

I completely understand why you are concerned. Once you calm down abit, I would diplomatically bring it up to the school...nurse, principal or even a letter to the Board of Ed. I'm not opposed to fun snacks for special days but to have it available every day is just wrong. The school should be setting an example for good health not contributing to poor habits. I'm sure that you are not the only one that has concerns about this.

I am recalling several stories I have heard about Rachael Ray's campaign to improve food choices in the nation's schools. I have found this at her Yum-O website --lots of great resources...one in which you can suggest that your school join the Alliance for a Heathier Generation (Bill Clinton's organization), free Healthy Schools program.

Go Lala!

http://www.yum-o.org/news.php?id=38

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

I have said no myself to stuff like this at school and to vending machine junk where ever they are found. A treat once in awhile means once every few weeks, not every day. At my son's school the parents take turns sending in treats for Fridays and they are the worst. It's like Halloween every week. My son started braces and that eliminated most of the chewy taffy, stick-to-the-teeth stuff he could eat. If people want to gorge on sugar and candy at home, they can dig their graves with a fork and knife all they want. I see no need or reason for it to be so easy to overdose on sugary treats at school. They are handing out candy like, well, candy!

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R.K.

answers from Boston on

I feel bad for those poor teachers that have these kids after lunch all hyped up on sugar and junk. But yest I think you are making a big deal out of this. To each their own. If you want your kids to eat healthy then a simple "no" to your daughter's request is all that is needed. Maybe a treat once in a blue moon you could allow her to buy one. The junk food was seen more in the middle/high school here but they also offered a full salad bar.

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S.T.

answers from New York on

I grew up in the 60's and 70's when dixie cups were always available in the school cafetiera. But dixie cups were a tiny treat - 1/2 cup of ice cream maybe? And we almost never had "desert" after dinner. We also didn't have video games and playing usually involved balls in the street or bicycles. In other words, we worked off everything we ate. We were all skinny.
My kids are in public schools filled with this junk too - but they encourage healthy birthday party snacks. ???? There's this schitzophrenic attitude going on.
I don't think a one person crusade will help - you'll be labeled as the crazy mom. I tried asking questions at our grade school years ago - and someone suggested I get involved on the PTA healthy food committee. How crazy is this - just get the junk out of the cafeteria! I am not going to spend untold hours in a committe bargaining over what cookies or snacks to allow (especially since I work outside the house).
Keep your kids active. Make sure they're playing soccer, tennis - or pickup kickball, baseball, basketball with the nieghborhood kids. Take them on bike rides with you or walks with you & your husband. My kids "hate" to come on walks with us and will argue while we put on our sneakers - and as we head down the street. But by three blocks in they are chatting away and we get to hear about their day - and they're now 11 & 14.
Your kids will be faced with all kinds of choices as they grow up - whether it's snickers ice cream in grade school or cigarettes/pot in middle/high school - and yes - even sex. The trick is to instill your values so they can make the right decisions when you're not around - since increasingly as they grow up we're not. ;o) Tell them about why we make the decisions we do - ask them their opinion - explain things, give them your point of view early - and with any luck you'll hear them saying the same thing to their friends one day...

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