Should we allow food in the classroom? This has been a big debate in our school district lately! The district is pushing for a mandate that all food be kept out of the classroom. There are petitions going around and emails flying into my inbox supporting the cause on both sides. It really is surprising to me how passionately people feel about this subject.
As of now, I’m not sure where I stand on the matter. I have close family and friends who feel strongly that we should still allow our kids to enjoy sharing birthday cupcakes and having holiday parties. My cousin once said, “I don’t want anyone telling me what I can and can’t do for my kids!” I also have close family and friends who feel that there are too many kids with allergies, diabetes, and other health concerns, so it would be better to do without the extra sweets. Another friend said, “It’s just not fair! Why should we allow some kids to eat while my kid can’t?”
On more than one occasion, I have heard heated arguments on the subject. It seems that this may turn into an all-out war! I keep asking myself, “Which side am I on? Do I have to choose a side, or am I somewhere in the middle?”
Part of me says, “YES, please take the food out of the classroom!” As a mom of a child with type 1 diabetes, I think it would be so much easier to not have to deal with any of that. I cannot count how many times I’ve come in to the classroom for parties so that Kaitlyn can enjoy the treat along with everyone else. It’s a big hassle to pack up my little ones in the car and drive over to the school, just to check her blood sugar and push a few buttons on her pump so that she can eat the treat with the rest of her class. I’m also sympathetic to kids with celiac disease or other allergies who can’t have the treat, even if someone is there to monitor. Is it fair to serve a cookie to everyone in the class and then offer carrot sticks to the ones who can’t have it? Wouldn’t it be nice to just skip the hassle, be fair to everyone, and pass out stickers instead?
Then there’s the other part of me… the part of me that has four school-aged children who absolutely love having treats in the classroom. They look forward all month to the one day that their teacher will reward them with a little cookie at lunchtime for getting all their work done. They think it’s the best day ever when a parent brings in a new recipe for them to try that goes along with a unit they’ve been studying. The holiday celebrations and cultural experiences are a huge part of what makes them love school! As I look at how Kaitlyn has dealt with having food in the classroom, I think she and her teachers have dealt with it really well. If you ask her, she would say that she loves having the treats even if she has to wait a little bit sometimes before she can eat them.
So… food or no food? That is the question. Is there a happy medium? I think so! Stay tuned for some ideas I have on how we can help our children’s teachers make food in the classroom a positive experience for everyone!
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.