The evil of the snack, and meltaway moms

devil ducks at cafe
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

Ill temper seized me today as the after-school pickup gossip was full out outrage about some mysterious Policy or state law. The school will no longer pass out snacks (which the parents brought each month – boxes of crackers.) Instead we must pack an individual snack for our child every day.

No one likes this policy. Now some kids will have a snack and some won’t. What’s with this law? Is it a law? What’s up? Why doesn’t the school, the district, the principal, whatever, communicate? Also, many of the incoming 1st grade moms didn’t know that Thursdays are early pickup day and they don’t have childcare backup. A bad situation. “I’m going to complain to the principal…” was the refrain.

“Oh look, here he comes now, let’s ask him about this stuff,” I say, and walk over to the dude, who has always been perfectly willing to speak to me. “Hey Mike, we were just wondering about this snack policy thing…”

Hey presto, it’s magic, five or six moms melt away like scared little birds. I am left to speak for myself. Fine. (Not fine at all, and it’s not the first time this exact thing has happened, and I don’t appreciate it.)

Mike was evasive at first and referred to how it was the Law. I asked which law and why doesn’t anyone say? I pressed. Mike busts into a grin and sweat, and explains that as part of No Child Left Behind, or NCLB, schools are only allowed to give food to kids under specific conditions and it has to be specific food that fills some kind of requirements for healthy eating. For example, nothing that has a sugar coating. “So, Mike, why stop all the snacks? It was all crackers anyway. Why not just have the district, or the school, set a policy?” Mike says they’re afraid of losing their federal funding (?! I have to say… yeah riiiiight.) if they make a wrong move. “So, the district can’t use its own judgement? They could, but they’re afraid to? ” “Well, our funding…” “That’s silly. They should set reasonable guidelines and say what’s acceptable.” “Well, a few months from now maybe the district nutritionist will give us a list.” “So until then only certain kids get snacks? Seems like a bad solution.”

I walked away at this point… A bit abruptly, which I’m sorry for … I don’t have any reason to get up the principal’s nose about this or any other issue. Obviously it’s the district’s decision not his. Mostly I just had to leave out of disgust with the other women who wanted to complain, but could not even manage to ask a direct question of another human being who might know the answer. The district administration comes in for my disdain at this moment for not having an ounce of gumption. I wonder what other Really Stupid Legislations they’re knuckling under at this moment? Since I’m writing smack about them I should probably call and ask directly.

I also get hot under the collar about people whose own negative body image leads them to stand around making judgemental comments about poor people being fat, and how we need to help them, because at home they just watch tv and eat fritos. “We need to have salad options in the cafeteria!” Hello! Whatever! Maybe 2 kids out of a hundred are going to eat a salad. Are they crazy? “I don’t give a rat’s ass if my kid eats an Oreo at school,” I said, in the grouchy, earthy way that makes me so popular in the capri-pants crowd. “I don’t need some pushy dieter telling me that sugar is child abuse. Give my kid a graham cracker for god’s sake.”

I am going to hell for posting this. Thus, the devil ducks and cake in the photo above.

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21 Responses to The evil of the snack, and meltaway moms

  1. Denise says:

    Heh, I wish you were at our little kids' schools. Let's give them all graham crackers, damn it!

  2. badgermama says:

    So, I can't find anything online about any "new state law". I wrote to the school superintendent to ask what's up.I did find this:article on making schools grow their own organic lettuce. This is idiotic. I think of Lil and Roar, the kids next door to me many years ago, and how their meals were often dry cereal and ramen noodles, for days. Like a piece of pizza is going to ingrain a lifetime of bad eating habits and a fat ass, on top of that? Whatever!It would be super nice to have salad bars, sandwiches, burritos, and pizza in jr. high and high schools, instead of the frito pies, ho-hos, and coke that I grew up on. That sounds just peachy. Nothing wrong with it. But no. everyone has to get super horribly preachy about how we have to save the fat kids. It's fishy.

  3. Liz says:

    Oh, get this. I also heard there is some kind of rule, or law, or policy, that means the little kids can't get a second helping of anything if they eat a school lunch.

  4. Mrs. Davis says:

    The story about federal funding might be right. The private schools in our town (we're in Ohio) have "communal" snack, and at the public school (where our son is now a first grader) they each bring their own in a baggie every day. The school gave out a list of "recommended" healthy snacks – basically crackers, fruit or veggies.

  5. badgermama says:

    A friend sends me this:sb12 summary. Could this be it?"• An individually sold snack may have no more than: • 35% of its calories from fat (excluding legumes, nuts, nut butters, seeds, eggs, nonfried vegetables, and cheese packaged for individual sale). • 10% of its calories from saturated fat (excluding eggs and cheese packaged for individual sale). • 35% sugar by weight (excluding fruits and vegetables). • 150 calories (elementary schools) • 250 calories (middle and high schools) • An individually sold entree may have no more than: • 4 grams of fat per 100 calories • 400 calories • And must qualify under the federal meal program "Point 4 mentions sale to pupils. Which would seem to exempt the rather innocuous crackers brought and donated to the classroom by parents for our school snacks.Sorry to obsess on this, but… it just seemed so nonsensical.To top it all off, I looked at the lunch menu for this month and it is all sandwiches, salads, broccoli, applesauce, etc. with Thursday as pizza day. So I'm not getting why everyone's freaking out. Every entree has its fat content right smack on it. News flash to yuppie wenches: kids need fat in their food. And when it says "27% fat" it does not mean the food is composed of 27% fat. It means percentage of required daily whatchamacallit. They did not sculpt the turkey sandwitches out of pure butter.

  6. radioactive girl says:

    I don't know if this has anything to do with the stoppage of snacks but I am becoming licensed to do home daycare and there are so many papers I have to read regarding food that I am now totally scared to feed the kids! I have 4 of my own kids and they are all totally healthy and I've fed all of them, but once you start giving me a bunch of rules, I sort of panick and wish I didn't even have to deal with feeding part of taking care of other people's kids. Could that be what is happeneing? There isn't any exact rule that says everyone needs to bring their own snack, but maybe there are rules about what the snack must consist of if it is provided by the school and maybe they just don't want to be responsible? Just a thought, and it still sucks either way.

  7. Merry Mama says:

    I don't know where you are, but here in Tayxas, it seems that is the law since, uhm, a few years ago? Or last year?? I can't remember. I used to send piles of homemade cookies or graham crackers (or when I felt guilty, grapes and cheese). They politely asked me to stop sending them when the law changed. And the next year, it was we who were poor and couldn't send pre-packaged snacks for our kid and he had to go hunt down his lunch box every time he wanted a piece of cheese or a grape… and he complained incessantly to his teacher that he was hungry. It's all about timing. They NEED small snacks, often. I've noticed this from being with then 24/7 in summer. The law is … well, it makes me mad. And If I had been there, I would have stood by your side. They never told me why they wanted me to stop. I had to read the notes in the backpacks. When I confronted them, they changed the subjects… so I know what you mean.The ducks look cute. Are ya sure they're demons?

  8. badgermama says:

    that's so interesting, y'all!As far as I can tell from the law I'm looking at, SB 12, it's only food that the school sells that's regulated. "Competitive foods" from vending machines or whatever, that compete with the food they officially sell for school lunch.But maybe there is some other federal law I don't know about. Whatever it is, the way it's being implemented is annoying!

  9. Karianna says:

    Yeah, SB12 is about the sale of food. I had a similar question when I heard that the snacks parents brought in were required to be packaged, not homemade. However, this erroneous assumption was cleared up by my husband, who works for a state senator. That particular regulation was also about food for sale.I am going to email him your post and see if he can weigh in with some answers.

  10. Kari says:

    From My Husband:If someone gets an official written explanation, I’d be glad to talk about it. But we have no idea what the principal is talking about.From the Snack Person in the State Senate:There is absolutely no new state law around the USDA subsidized snack. Our bill, SB 638 will require after school programs receiving Prop 49 funds to serve a snack in compliance with SB 12 standards…the healthy school food standards that go into effect Jan 2007.

  11. dorothy says:

    WTF? God, I HATE No Child Left Behind. Everything about it seems to smack of "do what George Bush says or you'll lose your funding." I don't know why this makes me so mad, but thinking of the poor kids whose moms either a) forgot or b) can't afford snacks looking longingly at their friends whose parents would gladly provide snacks for everyone just makes me sad.I'm that not-afraid-to-complain mom in my circle.

  12. Mary Tsao says:

    Gee, I'm so looking forward to the day when my kids are in school. Not!I would have hung around to talk to the principal with you, even though I am still just a little bit scared of principals.

  13. Donna says:

    Neener, Neener, Neener.We homeschool and I can feed my kid whatever, whenever, and however! I'm from Tejas too! There are NO regulations regarding homeschooling in Texas. Nada, none, not a single one.And it's Bush's homestate!Bwaahaahaahaaa

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