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Parents and Healthy Eating at School

October 30, 2012 by Joanna Drake, Registered Dietitian

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With Halloween upon us, I’m prepared for the candy that’s about to enter my home.

My kids are at an age when Halloween is important; they’ve had their costumes for a month. I love seeing how excited they get running door to door yelling “trick-or-treat” and then sorting through their loot at the end of the night. I also think there are some easy ways to control the amount of candy that comes in from trick-or-treating so, as a parent and a dietitian, I have little objection.However, I do have some concerns with what’s happening at school.

When I was a kid, the only time we sent cards to our school friends was on Valentine’s Day and all we sent was a card. Now, kids send cards for all occasions, including Halloween and candy is often attached to these cards. Why? These occasions are already laden with candy. When did it stop being enough to just send the card?

Schools educate and support health as required in the curriculum. To reinforce what’s being taught, the Province has developed mandatory guidelines that provide minimum nutritional criteria that a food or beverage must have in order to be sold to students at school and at any school-related event. Families still make the decision about food choices at home and in bagged lunches brought to school. Families also make the decision about food brought in by their child to give to other children. Are you ok with another parent deciding what your child is eating at school? If not, why not ask your school to encourage parents to follow the guidelines when they send in food for celebrations?

I believe our role as parents should be to support the healthy eating messages at school. I feel we’re sending a conflicting message when we allow our children to distribute candy as part of a token of friendship. We need to emphasize the importance of healthy eating in all environments and situations, including school. What ideas do you have to help strengthen healthy eating messages at school?


Recommended Resources:

Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in BC Schools
Healthy Fundraising for Schools

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