The treasure trove of knowledge found in social media amazes me sometimes.
My readers sometimes help me more than I help them.
A comment on Facebook about a crazy experience at Gymboree this summer received encouragement to contact the manager. I wouldn’t have done it without that positive peer pressure, and Gymboree corporate ended up doing teacher retraining at the site, and the local owner/manager called me to see if there were any other changes that needed to be made.
I’ve also been encouraged by a nurse to write letters to our hospital about Sweet-Ease, the sugar water used for infant pain relief and cry control for the standard heel prick (and I will), and again supported in my quest to bring the ridiculous medical charges from the delivery down. ($3400 to deliver the baby, $2000 more to deliver the placenta. Hmmmm….)
Most recently, I posted dilemmas about my new first grader and food at school. Although I was worried about the logistics of packing a healthy lunch, I knew I could handle it. I was more concerned about what to do with the, “Mom, I want to eat the hot lunch at school!” conversation and the fact that his classroom has group snacks – graham crackers, cookies, and Handi-Snacks cheese and crackers the first week.
When does compromise start to push the boundaries into routine?
And the Survey Says…
The feedback from Facebook was more than I even expected. I got great ideas and most of all, community support for the decisions I knew I wanted to make but needed the courage.
The Healthy Lunch Box: Sandwich-free Secrets to Packing a Real Food Lunch is loaded with strategies to streamline your packing process, stock your pantry with emergency backups for your backups, and send healthy, delicious food in the lunch box, no matter how old your eater is. Read more and start packing healthier, processed-free lunches today.
Is Occasional School Lunch Okay?
When I asked about school lunches and if perhaps a once-a-month pass would be a good compromise, some of my favorite advice included:
- I would say once a month but only remember if he remembers (+ 4 likes)
- Doesn’t matter. You’re mom and what you say goes! : ) (+ 3 likes)
- I am doing once a week they get to eat at school. It has been such a success. We have been in school almost 3 weeks though. Although today the snack that another mom took was a capri sun bleh. I am going to have to go down there and talk to them. Of course I find this out after a complete melt down after school. Iye ya ya. (=+ 2 likes)
- Perhaps letting him choose from what’s coming up (once a month or even twice) would let him feel some sense of control over the “treat” as well as teach some (very rudimentary) meal planning skills? (+ 4 likes)
- yes, no complaining for the month then school lunch (+ 2 likes)
- I went with once a week with my kids. It was enough to keep them “cool” with their friends and kept the peace. (+ 2 likes)
- My daughter went through that. So, I asked her which day was her favorite: Wednesday! It was pizza day in the cafeteria. I told her that I would allow her to load her card with enough money to buy lunch in the cafeteria once a week. She did this for a couple of months and quit reloading the card…she got over it and told me that she had fun buying lunch like the other kids, but the food wasn’t THAT great for the money that she had to spend.(the money had to come from her allowance.) (+ 17 likes!)
- We do 2 times a month and it is nice for my kids. We see the menu in advance and I have slight veto over what they chose. It is a compromise for us.
- You can make a healthy version of what is on the school lunch menu and explain the difference in how you are doing it vs. how they make it. (+ 5 likes)
- I like the idea of looking thru the menu…but maybe you should make them pick the GROSSEST thing and then they won’t want to eat in the cafeteria anymore! *wink* (+ 3 likes)
- 1) You pick the “best” option or 2) Let him pick his favorite once a month/week.
- I like the idea of a free-day. I even think that one meal once a week wouldn’t be terrible. Might be worth the bit of freedom he feels!
- If there’s something special that your kid is saving up for, you could offer him the option of eating in the cafeteria once a week (on Fridays, for example), but that each Friday he takes a lunch instead, you’ll put that money towards whatever he’s saving for.
My initial response:
I was tickled when he heard we had tuna fish at home and was TOTALLY disappointed that he wasn’t here! Guess what he’s getting in his lunch tomorrow?
And he’s a “saver” so asking him to spend his own ($1.65/lunch) is an excellent, excellent idea. I’m so excited about that one!
The Kimball School Lunch Plan
My husband and I discussed the issue and decided on our game plan: we’d allow Paul to choose lunch once a week from the menu with Mom getting ultimate veto if necessary.
He’d pay half, we’d pay half, but if he chose to skip a week, we’d put our half into his bank for whatever item he decided he wanted to save up for.
The only catch is that I am waiting for him to bring it up again…and a week later, he hasn’t mentioned it! Did he forget or is school lunch looking less appealing these days? Or does he just assume Mom will say no and is smart enough not to bring up a lost cause?
I’m so curious, I’m almost ready to bring it up myself.
I posted on Facebook about the snack issue as well:
Snack is a community affair, and recommended options to bring for the class are pretzels, goldfish, carrots or animal crackers. Today they had graham crackers. Sigh. White flour, trans fats, and so very much gluten. DH says don’t make a big deal of it. I’m struggling with my inner real food bear…
There was quite a bit of controversy about the first comment:
I know that my daughter is sensitive to BHT, food coloring and flavoring. You could pull the “my kid’s allergic” card. I totally would. 😉
Rightly so, many folks jumped in to say that parents should never lie or exaggerate about allergies – sets a terrible example for your child and causes a bad precedent for families with real food allergies. They don’t deserve to be second-guessed or questioned. (My son does not have a known allergy or sensitivity, but we remain “low gluten” as a family because my husband clearly has some sort of problem with gluten and we fear/expect my son to as well.)
Other great advice included:
- I wouldn’t be comfortable with a daily compromise. Weekly, maybe; monthly, yes. Definitely not daily.
- Tons of folks just said “homeschool!”
- I know that you don’t like to do processed foods … but that sometimes necessity forces you to concede. This might be such a necessity. Annie’s has cheddar bunnies instead of “goldfish” that are organic and gmo-free. It could be a compromise … maybe?
- I have a snack box in my son’s classroom. Whenever they have a snack he can’t have, he gets to choose from his box. I have things in there he doesn’t usually have at home (single serving applesauce cups, fruit leather, lara bars, etc), so he still feels like he is getting a treat and doesn’t feel left out.
- My kids school did the same thing in Kindergarten. Each kid (if they could afford it) had an assigned day each month to bring a snack for the whole class. Lucky for me my girls naturally turned down some of the really bad things but I just look at it in a way that I know the majority of the time they are getting fed good foods and they know the right choices to make when it really comes down to it. The candy and holiday treats are to be worried about more then a small snack. That is just my opinion though.
- Our boys have allergies so we always bring our own. I say it’s your kid, you take whatever snack you want to.
- I wouldn’t lie about it, but I don’t see why he can’t have his own snack. I’m sure all the GF and allergy kids do. Start with the teacher and see if he/she will work with you. If not, work your way up the chain. You might be surprised to find other parents who also would rather opt out.
- I agree to talk to teacher, maybe some compromise from them and from you could create a good situation. We are lucky in our town, at our alternative school healthy is the norm and unhealthy not so much. Hang in there. Maybe you could suggest a nutritionist come in and do a talk, many will for volunteer hours.
- I don’t mind my kids having animal crackers once a week at Sunday school, but I don’t think I would feel comfortable with them eating standard processed snackfoods 5 days a week. I think you have every right to provide your child with an alternate snack every day. And at least you know when it’s your turn to provide snacks the others kids will get something great!
- Maybe you could even work with the school on creating a list of school approved healthy options.
There are so many other nuggets of wisdom, hilarious and frightening anecdotes, and a great depth of discussion – click HERE to read the rest. It’ll be worth your time.
Kimball Family Snack Plan
I had a conversation with my son Sunday night explaining the new snack plan. I began by asking him what ingredients he thought might be in the first week’s snacks.
He was onto me in a second and said, “You mean which ones have gluten in them?” We talked about that ingredient, sugar, and did any of them have butter in them or margarine and unhealthy fats?
I asked if those were growing foods good for the brain or fun foods. He’s smart enough to know the answer.
He seems cool with my compromise: he can choose one group snack each week to eat, and the rest of the time he has his own snack in his bag. I’m also trusting him to understand when there’s an honest-to-goodness healthy snack: baby carrots, fruit, etc. and he can eat that without using his “one treat a week” card.
When I talked to the teacher at open house, she was extremely understanding of my quest to eat healthy foods and said it would be no problem for him to have his own snack.
Yesterday was day one of the new system, and he chose to use his “ticket” already. The snack was cookies.
I’m really curious as to what the story will be for today, the first day he’ll have to stand out and get his own snack from his backpack. I hope it’s not too painful!
When it’s my turn, I’m either bringing individual raisin boxes or whole apples (we pick by the bushel, so that’s not even very expensive). I may have to cut some apples for the kids who have no front teeth though, come to think of it!
I would absolutely work for greater change: a school “healthy foods” list or whatnot, except that we’re only going to be in the school for a short time, and it feels odd to get too involved in the future…even though, I know, it could help other kids after we’re gone.
If you need ideas to help your family pack healthy lunches and snacks, try these resources:
- Healthy Snacks to Go, an eBook (soon to be updated with about 10 new recipes, and current purchasers get the update for free!)
- Healthy School Lunch Ideas
- Gluten Free Lunch Ideas
- One of this month’s sponsors, Honeyville Grain, sells freeze-dried fruit and vegetables – they last forever and are a good option in case something needs to sit in someone’s backpack for a few days (weeks, whatever!) before it gets eaten.