PERTH, Australia – Parents in Western Australia are complaining after lunchbox police in several schools confiscated food from students and replaced it with a condescending note to parents.
Parents are sounding off on social media about a “traffic light policy” implemented at many primary schools that encourages teachers to rummage through students’ food from home and determine what’s “appropriate” for them to eat, WAToday reports.
“This means deep fried food of any description, sweet sandwich fillings, high fat sandwich meats, confectionery, soft drinks, cordial, fruit juice, sport drinks, croissants, doughnuts, iced buns, slices and flavored water are all considered ‘off the menu,’” according to the site.
“A school may choose to subscribe to the policy, and must inform parents of their guidelines.”
But parents contend different teachers interpret the guidelines differently, with one parent complaining her daughter’s teacher confiscated the girl’s sultanas because she considered them “high sugar.”
A note sent home with the child read:
Please help us to encourage nutritious eating habits in children. Our Healthy Eating Policy asks you to provide healthy and nutritious snacks for your child to eat at kindy (kindergarten).
Acceptable items include: Fresh, dried or tinned/packaged fruit/vegetables, vegetable dips, cheese, crackers/dry biscuits, yoghurt, fruit bread/muffins, sandwiches with healthy fillings.
The sultanas packed for your child today is unacceptable at kindy due to its high sugar content.
“Getting really sick of my daughters food being sent home from school!” one parent posted online, accordint to WAToday.
“Since when is popcorn not allowed as a snack?” another questioned. “It’s not nuts and I personally don’t consider it junk! I have no idea what to put in her bloody lunch box beside a sandwich.”
Other parents gave school officials a piece of their mind about their healthy eating guidelines.
“I informed the school that when they buy, make and pack my kids lunch boxes, then and only then can they dictate to me, their parent, what my child can and (can’t) eat,” the unidentified mother told WAToday. “But even though they gave us the healthy eating guide to ‘follow’ it was never enforced.”
Teachers defended the initiative and their new authority to seize foods they don’t like.
“In certain instances, you don’t want to be looking after one child who is on a sugar high from their lunch box,” an unidentified teacher said.
She added that her students are given something more to her liking, so parents should just chill out.
“We do confiscate certain types of food, yes, but we will always replace it with a healthier alternative,” the teacher said. “We won’t let a child starve, so parents shouldn’t be too concerned in my opinion.”
Another educator blamed parents for the need to police lunchboxes.
“Go sit at a school in a lower socio-economic area – kids with one roll-up for recess, or two dry cruskits, one chocolate chip cookie, or one jam sandwich – this was to cover recess and lunch, everyday,” the teacher said.
“Kids can’t function if they are not eating properly. While I definitely don’t think it’s the teachers place to dictate what kids eat, something needs to happen.”