A mom in South Australia received an unwanted surprise recently when her child came home from school with a failing grade for their lunch.
Melinda Tankard Reist’s friend, and mother of eight children, was upset when her three-year-old delivered a note from the teacher, scolding the mother for sending her child to kindergarten with a lunch that included a leftover piece of chocolate birthday cake.
Reist was upset by the note and how her friend felt bad for breaking the rules. Posting the note on her Facebook page, Reist wrote that “My friend (mother of 8 healthy children, what follows relating to no. 7) received this today from her 3 year old’s kindy. I told her to put in two slices tomorrow and tell them to get lost.”
She posted the image to support her friend and to highlight that there needs to be a balance between healthy eating and being able indulge.
The note, which listed the chocolate cake slice as a food from the ‘Red’ category in the traffic light system used by many schools, has since gathered a lot of attention online, garnering almost 600 comments from parents and teachers both supporting and disagreeing with Reist.
Speaking with the Australian radio show John and Garry, Reist noted that both parents of the young child have degrees in health science and that these types of notes not only shame the parents, but can lead to shame and confusion around food for children as well.
Riest mentioned a few other foods that kids have had sent home too, including: “organic sugarless zucchini muffins and banana and almond muffins… cupcakes were sent home which had less sugar and calorie content than the approved muesli bar.”
Reist said that she works with nutritionists and has seen an unsettling rise in negative relationships between food and children.
“When you start shaming children around food, food starts to be seen as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and it can set them up for eating disorders,” said Reist. “There’s already a lot of anxiety around food and eating with kids and we’ve seen a rise in eating disorders in younger and younger children… I think we need to look at where this is taking us and if there’s another way to address it.” Because sending a lunch-shaming note home to parents just isn’t going to cut it.