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Parents fined for not sending Ritz Crackers in lunchbox

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Parents fined for not sending Ritz Crackers in lunchbox

Can you get an "F" in Lunch? One Manitoba mom has learned a hard lesson from her daycare after failing to meet the requirements of her daycare's nutrition standards. Teacher and mother of two, Kristen Bartikiw, was taken to task over lunches she prepared for her two children. According to her daycare centre, the lunches (which included roast beef, potatoes, milk, carrots and oranges) didn't meet the provincially-regulated nutrition standards. She received a notice informing her that that "grains" were missing from the menu. Daycare staff  "supplemented" her kids'  lunches with Ritz Crackers and charged Bartikiw a $10 fine. Say what? This seemingly wacky policy is the part of the Manitoba Government's Early Learning and Child Care nutrition regulations. Lunches for children in daycare are required to include a milk product, a meat, a grain and two servings of fruit or vegetables. Daycare providers must supplement the meal if a child is missing an item from the list. In-school nutrition is a big deal. More and more boards, like the Toronto District School Board, are removing soda machines from schools, and Manitoba schools uphold some of the highest nutrition standards in the country, with  limits on the number of pizza and submarine sandwich lunch days a school can have. My kids' kindergarten teacher once sent prepackaged cookies back after we had sent them four days in a row for afternoon snack (it had been a rough week at our house). And as a parent (and spouse of a teacher), I can totally understand why no teacher anywhere wants to spend a day with 25 kids hopped up on Halloween candy. School health curricula include units on nutrition and exercise, so schools should walk the walk (or run the laps?) when it comes to putting those ideas into practice. But how much say should other people have over what our kids eat if we're the ones packing the lunches? At our house (where Canada's Pickiest 5-year-old lives), we do what we can, aiming for balance over a day, or sometimes even a week. The kids might gorge on fruit in the morning, and eat bread for dinner. It all evens out and so far, nobody has scurvy. Forcing kids to hit all the food groups  at every single meal is why kids are forced to drink milk with apple slices. (Worst taste combo ever, yes?). According to Bartikiw, the daycare eventually dropped the policy because it was too difficult to enforce. You can read more about the lunchbox saga on Weighty Matters, a blog by Ottawa-based nutrition expert Dr. Yoni Freedhoff. What do you think? Would you welcome nutritional help from your kid's school, or should schools stay out of students' lunchboxes?   Photo via Weighty Matters    
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Parents fined for not sending Ritz Crackers in lunchbox

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