As a kid I loved the moms who brought cupcakes to school to celebrate her child’s birthday with the class.
Today these and other similar treats are becoming banned in schools across the nation. Is there any real justification for doing so?
As the grandmother of a child with food allergies, I like rules that say food to be shared with the class must come to school in the original package, of if homemade, include a list of all ingredients. I don’t think it’s necessary nor does it serve any purpose to enforce stricter limits than that unless of course in the case of a child in the class with a severe peanut or similar allergy.
I’m aware that there are overweight children, and that some of them are very overweight. If banning sugary, fatty treats in schools was all it took to get children lean, then maybe I’d agree it’s a good idea. It’s not going to solve the problem and worse it punishes the kids who are and aren’t overweight. It also lessens the degree of specialness of a child’s very own special day. Kids are excited and proud to share a treat with their classmates in honor of their special day.
Kids need to learn balance, moderation and self-control. Some kids will never learn that, but trying to do it for them may only backfire. Studies suggest that children whose parents enforce rigid guidelines over what their children eat often become absolute, out-of-control monsters when the parent isn’t there to enforce the rules.
There are so many positive ways to help children learn about good nutrition and enjoy foods that taste good and are good for them. Learning about food can be fun, from classroom projects with window box gardens to challenging kids to plan and prepare a family meal and share their experience in class the next day.
I don’t think that banning cupcakes is an action that will solve, or even begin to address reducing the weight of overweight school children or preventing them from becoming unhealthy, overweight adults. On the other hand, I think providing a wide variety of better-for-you foods and including some foods that are treats, combined with trusting kids to learn to make good choices for themselves will yield far better results.
If you’re really worried about cupcakes in school, becoming a classroom volunteer is an eye-opening experience. You may be amazed by how many of those cupcakes get only partially-eaten before the child loses interest in it.
Assuming there isn’t a birthday every day and assuming you feed nutritious meals at home and are watchful about foods processed with added sugar and fats, the occasional treat isn’t going to ruin a kid.
Please join me in the fight to save the cupcakes.