Whether you’ve spent hours making batches of cupcakes, or you’re a witness to those extreme sugar rushes (and crashes) when your child gets home from school, we all know about the poor quality of food being served to children during class parties. So why hasn’t anything been done about it?
The only way to see ANY improvement in school nutrition is for parents to speak up. So to get the ball rolling, I went to an inside source and got some great tips on how parents can approach the situation. The following information was provided by Paige Balius who currently serves as the Healthy Life Styles Chair for the Round Rock ISD Council of PTAs:
Why do schools allow junk food at class parties?
This is a becoming a very common question as parents become more health-conscious and careful about what they feed to their children. Rest assured, the teachers are not out to ruin your child’s health. With their time-crunched schedules, they probably haven’t even considered the other possibilities.
Class parties are usually steeped in tradition (“We’ve always done it this way”), and let’s face it, junk food is cheap and easy, plus the kids seem to love it (much to our chagrin)! The traditional way of thinking is, “It’s just a party. It doesn’t happen every day. It’s only a cupcake. What’s the harm?” But there is harm. Junk food is high in calories but very low in nutritional value, if any. Unhealthy food choices are no longer the exception, they are the norm. Most children do not eat enough fruits, vegetables & whole grains. Plus, having a class party involving food after the kids have already eaten lunch teaches kids to eat when they’re not really hungry.
What can parents do?
Offer to help plan the party.
No one likes the Negative Nancy who only complains about the problem but does nothing to help fix it. Your direct involvement can steer things in a healthier direction.
Voice your concern in a non-judgmental way.
As I stated above, the teacher may not even be aware there is a problem. Saying, “I worry that these kids are getting too many calories, and with the obesity epidemic we have…” will get her to be much more receptive to your plan than,“Why are you trying to ruin my child’s health?!”
Recruit support from other parents.
You aren’t the only one who feels this way. If they also show their concern, the teacher will take notice. Bonus, she doesn’t just discount you as the “crazy health nut.”
Propose a completely different kind of party than one centered on food.
What about an extra recess? Or a more structured party involving fitness games, crafts & a healthy snack? Consider, also, bringing your concern to the PTA Healthy Lifestyles Chair and/or the school
administration. If your PTA doesn’t have a Healthy Lifestyles Chair, offer to take on the position. It’s
great to make changes that benefit your child and her classmates, but think about the amazing impact
you could have on the entire school.
For more ideas on Healthy Celebrations, visit www.TxPTA.org.
About The Author:
Paige Balius currently serves as the Healthy Lifestyles Chair for the Round Rock ISD Council of PTAs. She works as an advocate to promote recess, physical education, and good nutrition in the schools. As a personal trainer and mother, she believes that healthy habits start in the home. A self-described exercise enthusiast “late bloomer”, she believes everyone can find an exercise they enjoy and makes it her mission to help them find it!