Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sugar, Sugar Everywhere

Here is my question for the day: When did it become normal to have treats at elementary school-related events? I'm not talking about the cafeteria or vending machines. I'm talking about cookies, candy or sugary lemonade readily available at every event, party and "out-of-the-ordinary" occurrence.

I ask this, because I have witnessed it during the last two weeks. I regularly volunteer at my 1st grader's school. And yes, I have seen all kinds of treats offered at various occasions. I guess over the last 10 days, I was really struck by the overabundance of sugar-laden, fat-filled, gut-busting treats that were continually offered to my kids.

Valentine's parties? Brownies, m&m's; and untold amounts of candy exchanged by students.

School carnival? Candy was everywhere as game prizes and rewards; soda, lemonade and other treats up for purchase, to name just a few. Don't even ask about the foot-long Sandy Candy tubes (filled with colored sugar - to eat).

Science Night? Cookies, lemonade.

Open House? Cookies, lemonade.

Preschool? Cookies offered at snack (seriously).

My daughter was even given candy as a reward for behaving in class. And I'm not even counting the sports games, birthday parties, playdates and whatever else was available on top of what was offered at school during this time.

Now, believe me, I have no interest in banning anything (see my Mmmmm...chocolate post). I think treats are an integral part of childhood. Who doesn't remember chasing the ice cream man down the block, coins jingling in your pocket? Or snow cones on a blistering summer day? And the after-school Oreos and milk? But see, those times were out of school and under the watchful eyes of parents.

I'm simply questioning what seems to have become the norm, at least in our elementary schools. Don't kids today get enough opportunity for treats outside of school? Just a thought.

Let's turn to other alternatives, food or otherwise, for some of the school activities. For example: I brought tiny packages of baby carrots and mini water bottles to the 1st grade Valentine's party. The verdict? Most of the kids exclaimed they loved carrots - and they ate them (alongside the brownies and candy, but hey, don't look a gift-horse in the mouth).

What other ideas do you have? Share them in comments and let's start changing the mindset of our schools today!


  1. Gonna have to agree with you on this one. It's pretty rampant. And it's not just candy! It's food in general, which you could probably tack up in the "candy" category anyway. Like breakfast. It's ridiculously hard to get a "good" breakfast anywhere without being bombarded with biscuits, cinammon rolls, pancakes, etc. This morning at Starbucks a mom bought her daughter some sort of doughnut or muffin and a chocolate milk...I was praying for her pancreas and the insulin that was about to be unleashed!!! Rant aside, whatever happened to eggs and bacon? One idea that I have seen work is calling other things candy. Macadamia nuts work well with this. Maybe next time, take all the kiddos some grilled chicken legs...???

  2. Brandon,
    Agreed! What's really concerning are the foods masquerading as "healthy" but contain so much added sugar they could be candy: flavored yogurts, "juice" drinks, muffins, granola bars...the list goes on. That mom at Starbucks probably thought she was doing something good for her child. Thanks for commenting! :) Susan

  3. I live in Massachusetts, so I was shocked to learn about the goodies still in schools in Texas. Most Massachusetts schools have banned all of the parties to just a "Birthday Month" for all kids that month. You have to send a creative package to school with pencils, puzzles etc...maybe a healthy snack but no cakes or candies. There are no longer bake sales,or treats for behavior. At first I was shocked by this change, and although our household was a healthy balance, what could a little school treat hurt? Not all families practice good eating habits at home, then you get the school treats and lack of exercise and there you overweight society. School promotes education, so what better place to practice good health for life!
    Love your articles...Deb

  4. Deb,
    I think the Birthday Month party is a great idea with creative toys instead of cake or cookies. Love it! That is a great place to start, especially with the younger grades. Thanks for posting and your comments! :) Susan