‘I was horrified at how my grandson’s school shamed him over his lunch box’

Jul 02, 2019
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Christina's daughter received a note home after she'd packed a muffin in her son's lunch box for school. Source: Getty Images

I was recently left horrified after learning my grandson’s lunch box was being monitored by teachers at his school. What made me more upset was that if the school felt something in his lunch box was not appropriate for him to be eating — such as a muffin, they would send a note home to my daughter with a list of more acceptable items. As well-intentioned as this might be, I’m appalled at the brutality of it.

My grandson has a very healthy appetite. My daughter takes great care in packing his lunch each day. In my opinion, not every child is going to fit what society dictates will be an ‘ideal’ weight or height. Genetics will play a big role in that.

Even more incredible about this situation was that it was mentioned on some children’s report cards whether they took a healthy lunch to school on a regular basis. Are these schools for real? I hardly think a prospective high school will prioritise the contents of a child’s lunch box over their academic record. I also doubt a future employer will give two figs (pardon the pun) about a candidate that was trained from an early age to only trust bottled water.

This recent revelation had me thinking about my own school lunch box. When I went to school it consisted of a Vegemite sandwich, an apple or orange and a couple of biscuits. The only sign of me being a bit precious was that Mum peeled the orange and wrapped it back up in its skin.

We drank out of the school water bubblers. I remember once I was pushed by an impatient student and I chipped a front tooth on the bubbler. I was upset, especially when an abscess formed and the tooth ended up troubled and lost colour. My parents were not happy with the dental bill either. If anything like that happened these days I doubt parents would be like mine and say, “Harden up! That’s life.” There’d probably be some legal battle involved if something like that happened today.

It concerns me the emphasis on the result of the problem and not the cause. Instead of targeting children who are deemed to be ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ perhaps we need to be looking at the root of the problem — the continued approval of multiple fast food chains. I recently travelled to a town that had 25 fast food outlets all within walking distance of each other. McDonald’s, KFC, Red Rooster, Domino’s Pizza, a fish and chip shop or two, a noodle shop next to a Chinese takeaway, next to a Mexican place … It was crazy!

I’ve noticed an increasing number of high fat sweets from countries like the United States making their way into our supermarkets too. Don’t even get me started on the cooking shows television that emphasise sweet treats and over-indulgence, with advertisements for weight loss programs in between. It’s a never ending cycle of madness!

I can understand the push for healthy food, but I can’t say I agree with schools tackling the issue by rifling through kids’ lunch boxes and sugar shaming hard-working parents.

Do you think schools should be policing students’ lunch boxes, or is this a form of bullying? What was in your lunch box when you went to school?

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