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School foods are a consistent problem for our family.

As a family, we live a whole foods plant-based, unprocessed, sugar free and gluten free lifestyle. While our kids aren’t 100% plant-based, our values are instilled in them and they are probably 90-95% plant-based right now.

The school that our kids attend has disappointed us once again. They ran a special program for the holidays and did an activity where the kids decorated cookies. Aside from the obvious problem that they were decorating cookies, our son is gluten free and is not able to share in the same experience as the other kids. Luckily for him, we gave the teachers a back-up batch of foods that he could eat in “emergency” situations like this one. That being said, we as parents, only found out about this activity after it already occurred and by chance.

In the back-up food batch, there happened to be a cookie, what luck. Had there not been, our son would have been quite upset. We are wondering if the purpose of the cookie making could be described by the school. Was it really a vital part of the lesson? How was this cookie decorating important in developing learning skills or concepts?

We discussed many times before with the school that we do not like the school offering our kids junk food. They get ice cream on Fridays and cupcakes at birthdays. The PTA offers cookies, chocolates or whatever is appropriate for a holiday. These are all reasonable? Anything beyond that should be communicated to the parents in advance. Sugar creates reactions in all people and does not leave them to their best learning and behaviour abilities. It is carcinogenic and not the school’s responsibility to be teaching our children that it is OK to eat…or is it?

We feel that there is poor sensitivity for children who have food allergies, tolerances and avoidances beyond nuts. We recognize the severity of nut allergies and applaud Ontario schools for their hard work in keeping them out. However, there is a big disrespect for the other allergies. We should have the opportunity to replace a given snack with something else or withdraw our kids from school to avoid the activity altogether, which we did have to do last year when a cooking activity was done using flour.

Is it unfair to expect that food (and ingredients) being served to both our kids be communicated to us in writing at least 48 hours in advance? This way we could have time to replace the item should we deem the original food unacceptable for their allergies or our family’s values.

Your thoughts on this matter?

Our schools should think about adopting the methodology used in Appleton, Wisconsin. If you aren’t familiar with it, watch this video:

~ Plant Trainers


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