Australia – Food Police Shame Pre-Schooler for Bringing Cake to School
A South Australian mother was shamed for sending her child to kindergarten with a slice of cake, causing an online stir from other parents who rallied against the pre-school’s “nanny rules”.
A note was sent home with the pre-schooler alerting the child’s parents the chocolate slice was “from the red category” and suggested they “choose healthier options”.
It was brought to the public’s attention after a friend of the family of 10, prominent commentator and writer Melinda Tankard Reist shared the damning note on her Facebook page on Thursday.
Ms Reist said her friend, a mother of eight, received the note from her three-year-old’s kindy.
“I told her to put in two slices tomorrow and tell them to get lost,” she wrote with the post.
She added that her friend and her husband both held degrees in health science, and made all foods for their kids from scratch, including bread, and also served fresh and healthy food to the family everyday.
“Treating foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ contributes to eating disorders,” Ms Reist wrote.
“Parents are telling me their children are being shamed at school for having treats in their lunchbox and are taking that shame home, impacting their ability to enjoy a range of foods.”
While some parents defended the unnamed pre-school for its attempt to foster healthy habits in children at an early age, others said the “traffic light” system was going too far.
A father shared a similar experience of how he was shamed by the “food police” at his daughter’s four-year-old kinder last year.
“Packets of Tiny Teddies were being sent home and the children were clearly told they weren’t allowed to eat them. Since when are pre-school teachers qualified dietitians?” he asked.
One woman told how she was sent a note after her daughter, who was in grade four at the time, took a cupcake to school.
“I wrote a note pointing out that the cupcake had been homemade, using butter, eggs, milk, flour and sugar. Was without artificial colours or flavours and was fresh,” she wrote.
“I then write that I did not appreciate my child being shamed in front of her peers. And if it ever happened again I would make a formal complaint to the school council and the education department.”
The outspoken mother said she never received another note about her daughter’s lunch choices after that.
Others argued many parents failed at providing healthy options for their young children.
“It’s hardly a crime to encourage healthy eating. I know you’ll say it should be up to the parents, but have a look around. A lot of them are clearly failing,” one man commented.
Another Facebook user said it was important to attempt to “combat childhood obesity” but added the messages were “overkill” and youngsters are “afraid of eating a piece of chocolate cake ‘because mum, I don’t want to get fat’ ?”