No issue with school lunch choices

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MATT.TSO

@thenews.co.nz

Principals in Alexandra and Cromwell say there have been no checks of pupils’ lunch boxes for “unhealthy foods”.

The comments on school lunches were made after a recent controversy in Australia over a note sent home to a parent about the suitability of chocolate slice in their child’s lunch box.

The Terrace School principal Gary Anderson and Cromwell Primary School principal Wendy Brooks said neither school had a lunch box checking policy in place, nor were there concerns about a lack of healthy food in pupils’ lunches.

Discussion about lunch box policing at schools began when Australian Melinda Tankard Reist posted a photo to her Facebook account on February 4 showing a note her friend’s child brought home from kindergarten.

The note referred to a chocolate slice Ms Tankard Reist’s friend had put in her child’s lunch and asked her to “please choose healthier [food] options for kindy”.

In the same post, Ms Tankard Reist said she told her friend to “put in two slices tomorrow and tell them to get lost”.

Since the post was published, media around the world have picked up the story and hundreds of people had taken to social media to express frustration at the “over the top” policing of children’s diets.

Many felt schools had no business policing what parents were putting in their children’s lunches while others lamented the fact the checks meant children could no longer enjoy a treat with an otherwise healthy lunch.

Neither Mr Anderson nor Mrs Brooks wished to directly address the case in Australia, citing a lack of information on the situation, but both said the principle of the healthy eating message was important.

Both said their schools actively encouraged pupils to learn about diet and nutrition through the curriculum.

They said children were taught about making healthy choices in physical education and health classes, and were able to share what they learned with their parents.

Mr Anderson said parents were able to access the material their children were being taught and many had taken the idea of balanced meals on board.

“We like to think our parents are providing good, healthy meals – and they are.

“It’s a real credit to the parents. In a town like Alex, common sense will usually prevail and this generates no need for staff to take action like [sending a note home].”

Mrs Brooks agreed, saying parents in Cromwell were also doing a good job providing balanced and healthy lunches for their children.

If there were any concerns, teachers would work with parents to inform them about the importance of a balanced lunch.

“If a teacher had a concern about a child’s lunch, the teacher would just talk to the parents about it.

“It’s about working with families – you just get a better outcome that way,” she said.