An Australian mom who thought she had sent a nice snack for her 3-year-old instead got a note from the school asking her to “choose healthier options.”
The note, which included a frowny face, went viral after the mom’s best friend, author and commentator Melinda Tankard Reist, posted a photo of it on her Facebook page.
Watch her response to the school in the video above!
Reist tells Us Weekly that her friend, a mother of eight healthy children and a home cook with a degree in health science, made a chocolate cake for her son’s birthday party.
Per family tradition, the cake got divided among her kids and sent to school the next day.
“Your child has chocolate slice from the Red Food category today,” said the note that came home from the school. “Please choose healthier options for Kindy.” (Preschools are called kindergartens, or ‘kindy’ for short, in South Australia.)
Reist, who blogs and speaks about issues affecting women and girls, said she posted the note to raise awareness. “The eating disorder specialists that I work with have said that when we shame children around food we can contribute to body image dissatisfaction, even eating disorders,” Reist tells Us.
After she posted the note on February 2, many of her 10,000 followers quickly weighed in, most in support of the mother sending in a “hedgehog slice” (a popular regional dessert made of biscuits and chocolate) and calling school’s response an example of the “food police.”
“Argh!! Mothers feel guilty half the time as it is. FFS. She should take a whole plate of slices in and offer them around,” wrote one mom.
Another mother with a child at another school said she had included a tiny chocolate egg for her son along with healthy apples, chicken and carrots and that a teacher confiscated it and “lectured me about healthy lunches” after school.
“This happened to my wife when she sent in sugar-free zucchini brownies, our son was the same age,” wrote a dad.
Other parents said while the way the school communicated seemed inappropriate, they agreed with the policy in principal.
Since the Canberra mom posted the note on Facebook, the story has been shared around the world, with media requests coming in from all over and the story featured on Australian TV.
“People felt that this was intrusive of their rights as parents to send the food they wanted to send but it went beyond that,” Reist tells Us. “One young girl was reported as saying ‘I can’t eat chocolate cake at all, mom, because it will make me fat.’
Reist estimates that more than 1 million people have seen the note since she posted it.
She noted that her friend did some legwork and found that out the school’s food policy banned only “processed” cakes and biscuits, so the mother hadn’t actually broken the rules.
“It’s good we are having this conversation,” she tells Us. “It’s good the issue is out in the open and hopefully no more nasty red notes with sad faces home from school.”