Saturday, June 2, 2012

Letter to the editor

I woke up at 5:30 this morning with birds chirping outside and this letter chirping in my head. So I got up, wrote it down (thanks, subconscious!), and emailed it to the local newspaper. May it ruffle feathers, put burrs under saddles, and start balls rolling.

I prefer that my sons avoid sugar. A friend doesn’t like her daughter to eat between meals. My nieces and nephews have trouble focusing when they eat gluten or red food dyes. Others kids have to avoid life-threatening allergens.

Food has a huge effect on kids’ health, weight, and behavior, and it’s just common sense that parents should feed their kids what they think is best for them. It’s not easy, but it’s our right and our responsibility.

So why are we in Billings allowing that authority to be undermined in public schools? I’m not talking about hot lunch or parent-provided snacks. I’m talking about the nonstop parade of birthday cupcakes, reward candy, and class party pizza that students get fed during class time. (Have you ever peeked inside an elementary school on Valentine’s Day?)

In the last five days of school alone, my fifth-grader was offered 12 separate treats, including cookies, ice cream, and popsicles. School has taught him all about the dangers of smoking and drugs. What is it teaching him about sugar, which studies show is every bit as addictive?

But this is a broader issue. Although they mean well, teachers, principals, and parents shouldn’t be feeding children in the classroom at all. In most cases, it’s unhealthy. In all cases, it’s a distraction. And it excludes kids with allergies, health problems, or other dietary restrictions.

You know what would be a real treat? A districtwide policy on this issue.

1 comment:

  1. Our school district has one. It's not as restrictive as you propose (and I like your proposal) but it was a start.