When I was in kindergarten, we had an event every couple of weeks called “Zero the Hero.” I remember very little about the activity itself – although I know it involved numbers and “zero-like” round shapes in some way – but on “Zero the Hero” day one of the students was responsible for bringing in a snack for the class. Obviously, it was up to the parents to prepare said snack and drop it off at school in the morning. The teacher encouraged relatively healthy snacks, including fruit, cereal (e.g. cheerios), graham crackers and the like, and prefered that the items be small (possibly for more number/counting-related activities). If your turn at “Zero the Hero” day fell on or near your birthday, however, you could bring cupcakes or any other treat to share. These were obviously the most popular “Zero the Hero” days, although I know for a fact that all the students looked forward to them even when grapes and cheerios were on the menu.
The point of this reminiscence is that it is getting depressing to hear about how schools are banning every enjoyable snack that kids might want to eat. Vending machines loaded with candy bars and soda are one thing, but to ban treats of holiday candies (such as Peeps) and birthday cake? At a school in England last year, a child was sent out of the lunchroom because his father had packed one too many “junk” items in the child’s lunch and had exceeded the school’s recommended limit. This is a clear indicator that things are getting a little out of hand, as it means that some staff member was policing the home-brought lunch of every student to see that their parents had made good choices for them.
When I was in elementary school, my teachers taught about balance in diet and a little bit about nutrition. There was no lunch policing and no kids were ever sent out of the lunch area because their parents packed them an extra slice of cake.
Did the balanced diet sink in at that age? Does this prove that good decisions can be made without forcing them? I honestly don’t remember how I felt at the time, but the fact that kids were equally excited about grapes and cupcakes just might be an indicator that it did.