The Durham School District enacted a new healthy eating initiative that has led to some children going hungry after officials and teachers are throwing away the lunches parents pack for their kids.
Elaina Daoust has two students in the district, and, in 2015, became livid after her son was informed that his morning snack – a minute piece of banana bread with chocolate chips – was not an improved snack and that he would need to eat the grapes in his lunch instead.
Daoust said the little boy came home with a chart of listed healthy snack idea. He also told his mother that his teacher talked to him about healthy eating choices. She said the teacher also sent her a note home about the conversation. Daoust said she was upset for a number of reasons.
According to Daoust, her child is an extremely picky eater, and she opted for the packaged banana bread because home-baked treats were discouraged because of allergy concerns. She said it was a nut-free snack.
Daoust enrolled her child in another school in 2016 and had not had any problems at all.
Ontario’s health and physical education curriculum have become heavily focused on nutrition and healthy eating in the last few years.
Durham Catholic District School Board officials said teaching a child what constitutes healthy eating is not the same as critiquing their home lunch or snack.
DCDSB teaching consultant James MacKinnon said there is no policy that states the staff can take a child’s food away. He said it’s important to teach the students about healthy eating but not to single out individual students
Over 30 district parents shared similar stories about their children’s food being taken away. Such food that was taken away or not permitted in the classroom includes string cheese, Goldfish, juice boxes, Jello, fruit snacks, pudding, raisins, chocolate milk, Animal Crackers, granola bars and Sun Chips.
Janae Brangman said her elementary school child was sent her lunch home multiple times because it had pizza on non-designated pizza school days. She said staff had offered her an orange in its place, but most times, she’d come home hungry because teachers felt her lunch wasn’t healthy enough.
Brangman said it’s unhealthier to send a child home with nothing to eat all day than to let them have a granola bar.