Izzy (and Mama) Eat: The Gourmand Grows up...

Tales of Empty Nesting ...The Next Chapter

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Doughnuts For Breakfast? What is a Health-Conscious Mama To Do?

Indeed that is what the children in a certain preschool in JC are served on a regular basis. My friend L. just cannot wrap her head around the fact that three year olds are given such fatty, sugary foods to start their day. And this by the very people who are charged with taking care of them. When she pressed for answers, she was told that these doughnuts were not just any doughnuts, they were Super Doughnuts. After careful research, I know I wouldn't be to pleased to find Izzy eating them for breakfast either.

In her own words:

"Yesterday it was doughnuts and today "Coco Roos". While the menu says there is supposed to be fruit every day with breakfast, and I was told when I asked, that they get "fresh fruit" not canned with their meals, they have not been serving any fruit at all with breakfast. When I inquired about whether they would give the kids fruit with their "breakfast" (if you call chocolate doughnuts and chocolate cereal breakfast) on one particular day, I was politely told that if I wanted my son to have fruit with breakfast, we could bring our own!"

L. is struggling with how to handle this situation. On the one hand she recognizes the importance of her child eating healthy foods, while on the other, she would rather not have him feel uncomfortable eating something different from his peers. She is attempting to enact change from within but that could be slow in coming.

In the meantime, what do you think she should do? You can surely imagine what I might say but I will hold my tongue for the moment. I would love to hear from others.


Anonymous said...

I think serving children doughnuts in school for breakfast is irresponsible. The Super Doughnut argument is ridiculous. A child only knows he is eating a doughnut for breakfast. A doughnut should be a special treat once or twice a year, not something that is fed to children on a regular basis, thereby teaching them that it is a breakfast staple.

That being said, I don't understand why the preschool children do not eat breakfast at home. I find it a sad commentary on today's world when people drop their children off at school without having fed them breakfast at home....and enjoyed the start of the day with them...even if it is only 15 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Hey! This is a great post.

You know, I wouldn't do anything that would make my kid feel like the class geek - like banishing her from eating donuts and standing over her while she eats canteloupe and hard boiled eggs instead. But I would shake the tree farther up the branches.

This is unacceptable and these kinds of foods should not be tolerated in a school system. I already wince at nutrition-less crackers as a snack but donuts and chocolate cereal might as well be Halloween candy for breakfast.

And if after I didn't get a good response from the top levels of administration, I'd hit the board, other parents, strength in numbers, whatever.

I'd listen to the schools issues - cost, preparation etc and have a solution for the school ready to go - low cost tasty snacks/breakfast foods that are easy to procure and not so weird and unsavory that kids won't eat them. I'd be prepared to teach them. They may be doing this because they don't think creatively about food and have no idea what to serve, no place to cook or prepare food, etc. Sadly.

I'd also try to co-opt the kids in - get them excited about making some changes, eating better, etc. Maybe some gung-ho teachers can help and use it as a lesson plan on the body, whatever. These kids are still you enough where you can make this cool.

And if I were feeling all "grass roots organizy" (which I usually don't)and shaking the tree wasn't working, as a last resort I might start a small crusade, like calling the New York Times or another paper of record. A little analysis of the issue might encourage change.

Seriously, this is an issue important enough to me that I would rattle the very top branches. A little thing like this can destroy good eating habits and healthy relationships with food. Or at least make that much more difficult to instill.

Not that I care about this issue or anything... :) Great post! Keep us posted on your friend! Have I inspired her to turn into Norma Rae???


Anonymous said...

I fed my daughter at home and then what she got at preschool was *extra.* I work. I don't have time to sweat the details. I just made sure she had healthy stuff from me that was filling. If she ate some waffles with maple-flavored corn syrup, too, well, I could live.

If I cared and had time, I'd talk to the school.

I'd ask for a meeting and express my concerns.

I'd come with some ideas and some willingness to help. Whether the preschool is private or public, the teachers operate under tremendous time and budget constraints.

Jamie Oliver-style reforms entail actually listening to the concerns and strictures that the schools face and then meeting them with solutions: e.g.bananas can be cut into thirds and don't need washing, but grapes may be too much of a choking hazard for preschool and strawberries may be too expensive but there is a lot of very good all natural applesauce in little cups....

Izzy's Mama said...

anonymous: I'm with you there. A doughnut is a doughnut is a doughnut, not a breakfast staple! As for why preschool children do not eat at home, that is another issue. For most it is a financial issue, many of the students at this preschool qualify for free breakfasts. For others it is time constraints of getting two under five ready for school with no help. I'm also with you that eating at home is the best solution. But not everyone can meet this ideal.

Kim: You give great suggestions for enacting change. I do disagree on one point. Permitting the doughnuts is akin to submitting to peer pressure. Other kids eat doughnuts therefore your kid does? What happens when it is cigarettes and worse? Maybe a valuable lesson can be learned from going without..hmmm

anonymous 2: I heard that the public is not swallowing the Jamie Oliver reform..something went awry there. Not sure what.