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Junk food in school

My children’s school is the worst for junk food! They don’t have vending machines, but the junior high sells candy afterward to raise money for their yearly trip. All the fundraising is for Little Ceasars Pizza Kits or Butter Braids or candy bars. My kids are constantly given jelly beans or doghnuts from teachers as rewards for good behavior and they get coupons for free pizza and ice cream for meeting their monthly reading goals. This morning they grabbed all their change so they could donate it to Pennies for Lukemia. Guess what the classroom with the highest amount of donation gets??? An OLIVE GARDEN PARTY! It’s absolutely rediculous!!!!!

Fortunately, the school doesn’t have a kitchen, so food is either catered or the kids bring their own. I pack them lunches full of fresh fruits and veggies, but other kids share their junk food with them, since I continually find wrappers in their bags. I just feel like I’m fighting an unwinnable battle here! The reward for donating pennies to luekemia should be a chartiable one, not getting a party of junk!

I don’t allow my kids to turn in their reading charts, because I don’t want the pizza coupons, or sell the butter braids to the poor neighborhood! Which then leads to tears and accusations that I’m a mean mom because I won’t let them eat crap! I’m at my wits end!!

What do you guys do? I don’t want my kids to be shunned because they eat weird, or be known as that crazy vegan lady! I’m willing to compromise – the junior high can raise money with candy sales…but I put my foot down on junk food as a reward! It’s the wrong message to send to EVERY child, not just the ones with vegan parents.


  • pianissimapianissima Raw Newbie

    in my experience all my friends who were forbidden to eat crap ended up very unhealthy eaters as adults. my mom NEVER told me what i couldn’t eat, but she knew how to subtly merchandise the foods she thought were healthiest. we NEVER EVER talked about health though. food was either yummy of not yummy. if she noticed i liked apples, or spinach, or whatever, she’d make the same recipe again and again with my seal of approval. that is true comfort food.

    there will always be crap (not just food, but opinions, goods). it isn’t feasible to try and shield them from the outside world. rather, be a detective and try and find things you can make them that will nurture their bodies, minds and souls. little by little you educate their palates and re-code their brains. the more FORBIDDEN the junk gets, the more appealing it becomes…

    along with that, try and talk to your school. there is an organization that does this whose name i can’t think of, but you might want to form a coalition for more delicious food.

    natalia rose has some great stuff to say about this as she tries to instruct her children by being a role model… when they go out they eat whatever they want, but since they always come back with a cold or something, they learn to recognize why she feeds them the way she does.

    good luck! your children’s school is INSANE by the way… they need help!

  • Just be the “crazy vegan lady”. It is neglect to feed your kids sugar cased closed. There is no way around it.

  • That has always been our rule – that the kids can choose whatever they want when eating outside the home. (I myself was raised in an organic, homegrown food environment. My parents raised and prepared everything from scratch and I do remember being somewhat obsessed by the candy my friends shared with me. But ultimately, as an adult, I went back to eating the way I was raised – and even healthier.) I just find it disgusting and frighteningly ironic that they are having a fundraiser for leukemia and the reward is an Olive Garden Party! My kids have no idea what leukemia is, why they should donate money, nothing – they just know that they get to eat junk if they bring in enough pennies. It’s such a perfect opportunity for the school to educate kids on disease, or the art of giving!

    I try not to forbid them things, and I do set a good example of healthy eating in our home – try to educate the kids about the amazing nutrients in foods, let them pick out recipes and help me cook. And my kids didn’t really remember the reading charts, since we read every night anyhow, so I usually just threw them in the recycling bin. However my daughter’s teacher asked why she never turned hers in so she could get the pizza coupon, which started that whole mess.

    I just wrote a long letter with my concerns to the principle. I’ll keep you posted on what happens! Thanks!!

  • pianissimapianissima Raw Newbie

    indeed libbyB—the “find a cure” campaigns are so warped sometimes.

    well good for you for taking a stand. =)

  • tdgtdg Raw Newbie

    I completely agree with the school menus. My son will refuse to eat any lunch I send and then wait until his grandmother picks him up after school. She will feed him whatever he wants. I try to compromise and send more “acceptable” meals. I will even let him choose. Rarely will he eat. It is so frustrating.

    I do have to cut him some slack though as he hates sweets and won’t eat them. If they hand out chocolate, he will save it and give it to his dad. If they hand out crackers or those Goldfish, he will scarf those down. While those are not great, they are a far sight better than the cupcakes, candy and greasy pizza offered at the school. He has taken an interest in my new dehydrator so maybe there is a little more hope.

    Good for you for taking a stand with the school on the yucky rewards. I don’t understand how when the schools are limited by law (in my area) and can not sell or serve soda, sweets etc but then they turn around and offer sweets in the classroom and greasy pizza or soda as a reward for reading. My son used to save the pizza coupons and then use them to “buy” his great grandmother dinner.

  • TomsMomTomsMom Raw Newbie

    Don’t worry about children being shunned for eating habits! I mean, really, children tend to isolate each other into groups anyhow, for any reason. My best girlfriend in school was isolated because she was a kosher Jewish child, so what? She could have cared less. It’s better to feed your children right and let them develope friendships with NICE children, than to feed them filth just so they can play with little snotty pigs who can’t stand to be near vegans or Jews or whatever. Your children will always find friends. They will learn not only healthy eating from you, but always great values and morals from you this way:-)

  • BeTheChangeBeTheChange Raw Newbie

    I was raised in a verrrrry healthy household. No junk food ever! Granted, we were a vegetarian household then and would sometimes settle for pizza on friday nights or what have you, but it us interesting to see where my sister and I turned out: I continued overall eating mindfully and chose to be a vegan/raw vegan on my own. My older sister, however, is borderline obese and had np sense of what shewas putting into her body until very recently, in preparation for her upcoming wedding. Because she is older, I was smart enough at a young age to realize that I did not want to turn out like her (as bad as that sounds). I credit the majority of my habits to my mom, as much of a drag it is to find celery and peanut butter in your lunchbox instead of cheetos, her strictness is now very appreciated. Plus, she is now vegan, as well as her husband, after me! everything comes full circle.

    the moral of my story is to stick with it. be the crazy vegan mom. I am 21 years old and, looking back to my middle school and high school experiences, I am very grateful to have the healthy fruity pebbles-free foundation that I did. And the thing is, I DID buy bad foods and stuff in high school as rebellion, but then once I made the connection of howhorrible they made me feel, I stopped. I have never finished an entire can of soda because of my mom, either, I am proud to say. The taste for bad foods starts as an addiction at young ages, and while your kids might me getting bad food at school, they aren’t feeding their addictions at home, and that is what really matters! Even my sister now is back on the train to healthy eating, and everything is eventual. Stay strict, come up with fun healthy recipes, and all will be awesome in the moral land of school lunches.

    my tip is to make healthy food fun! I remember my favorite summer treat was peanut butter banana popsicles that my mom made. And I would do anything for cookies that were shaped in the letters oh my name, no matter WHAT they tasted like! psh, those pimply coke-guzzling kids don’t get that, do they???


  • I am seventeen but did not really learn my healthy habits from my own house. My family was just pretty average my mom usually gave me cereal or toast for breakfast and cooked cassaroles, pasta, or some kind of meat and breads for dinner. I did go through a stage in junior high when I would only order lunch because I thought bringing my own was too lame. haha but I quickly got over that on my own. I became health conscious from gymnastics which I did up until I started high school. I think that being in an environment outside my home where healthy food was important made a big difference. I agree with pianissima that if the food is “not allowed” there will be more temptation to eat it. A good example at home and really a sport that promotes a healthy lifestyle can make all the difference. In gym I of course wanted to do better and healthy food was associated with that so thats what I wanted to eat!

  • I learned something in Sociology that always helps me feel better about what my children face in society as compared to what they will see and experience at home. Amish families are very strict, they watch no tv, do not listen to music, have no electricity and some cannot ride in cars. They are a tightly knit self sufficient community that cares for no outside interference. That being said…the teenagers are allowed to rebell, wear what they like, work outside the community, listen to music, tv, etc….and experience the other world that surrounds them. A large percent (I can’t recall just how much but it’s around 90 percent) voluntarily return to their home life and leave the other world behind. Their reason….what they have found out there in no way compares to their sense of family and what they have within. I’m no where near Amish strict, but my kids know the limits, and they know the rewards, so it’s really up to me to be the example and allow them to find their own way as they mature. Making anything off limits (aside from, like, I don’t know, Crack) just makes it more attractive. So, there’s my soapbox, fight a good fight but pick your battles wisely.

  • So, I thought I’d update you guys on my situation with my kids school. I talked to the principal who completely agree that the ‘food as a reward’ and junk food amounts were out of control at the school. She said she’d do what she could on her end with the staff, but suggested I take it up with the PTO orgnaization. I’ve emailed the head of the PTO and found a lot of information online (Philadelphia has an awesome School Nutrition Initiative that cut their obesity rates in half the first year they implemented it – their website has toolkits for starting one in your own school) and am armed and ready for the next PTO meeting.

    I also just saw a video of a food restriction experiment done in school. The results were exactly as you all predicted above. So I’ve been testing it out at home. My husband isn’t vegan and he has a shelf of junk food in the pantry. However, I keep the counter LOADED with fruit. The kids help themselves to it anytime. Recently, I’ve started saying “that’s enough fruit for a while”, or “no celery before dinner”. Guess what they go crazy for now? – it’s not the junk food on my husbands pantry shelf!!

  • pianissimapianissima Raw Newbie

    libbyB—that’s hysterical… “that’s enough celery before dinner” my sides ache. you made my day! congrats on your successes.

    harmonylia—you are one wise and with it mommy. i think crack is a good boundary ;)

  • chriscarltonchriscarlton Raw Newbie

    Get a copy of “Eating” on DVD. Make copies and give them to anyone who thinks you are the crazy vegan lady. Trust me they will watch it at some point, even if they don’t admit it or seem interested. This is not a Raw Food film, it’s a film made by doctors showing the effects of animal foods on our health. Even the patients in the film are doctors. It’s very credible.

    Also find a few more concerned mothers, show them the DVD and then start a class action law suit against the school. the school board, the state. Legal cases have always been a great way to make changes in America.

    There is great legal precedent in America, because of the Dairy Council suit when they had to stop saying “Milk, It Does a Body Good.”

  • Thanks for the DVD recommendation, ChrisCarlton. I’ll check it out.

    Actually, there are several other parents at the school who feel the same about the school’s lack of concern toward healthy food. I’ve got their support on this issue, so I am certainly not going into this battle alone. And honestly, it isn’t that I want the whole school to be raw vegan. However, I think prohibiting soda on school grounds is a great idea…or maybe only allowing 100% fruit juice, rather than the watery sugar lemonade they sell at school functions. How about a policy of no food containing transfats allowed in the school?...or the eight grade kids could have a smoothie sale rather than a candy sale to raise money for their yearly trip? Thanks so much for all your help and I’ll keep you all posted on how it goes!

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