Back in July I wrote a post titled No More Food Rewards. I wrote this because I was concerned about the candy rewards and junk food parties in Autumn’s school. I sent a copy of the post to the Superintendent, the Assistant Superintendent of our school district and the Principal of our school. I wasn’t sure what I would hear back in return, but I was pleasantly surprised when they wanted to meet and talk about it. My husband and I had that meeting this morning and I’m happy to report it went really well!
Before the meeting, I did some research and emailed Stacy over at School Bites, she writes a blog about her own crusade for better nourished kids. She was so helpful in providing advice – the best advice being that I should look for the School District’s Wellness Policy. Come to find out, in 2006 as part of a federal mandate, schools were required to write up a wellness policy. Low and behold in an obscure area of our School District’s website, I found the Wellness Policy (adopted in 2006) and upon reading it, I found it to be fantastic! It addresses all of my concerns about the use of food rewards in the classroom and goes much farther to include school lunches, fundraisers, food sales, school meals and nutritional education. Let’s just say this little policy made my case for me.
I think most of us can agree that candy in the classroom, just isn’t a good idea anymore, but I still went into this meeting unsure of what we would hear. It’s not easy to speak up. My main purpose for speaking up was to create a healthier environment for our kids and especially not to make things harder for my daughter. I worried that her teacher would not appreciate me messing with her way of doing things. I also worried that the Principal or teachers would get mad at me. I know this sounds stupid, but in order for my daughter to survive school with her life-threatening food allergies, I need open communication with these people. I just didn’t want to shut down any of that communication. Well, I’m happy to report none of that happened.
During the meeting we talked about our experiences so far, our reasons for wanting things to change and our hopes for better times ahead. They listened and were in agreement that it was time to start getting closer to what their wellness policy states. We talked about how times have changed and some alternatives that teachers could use instead of candy. They admitted that they hadn’t been looking closely about what happens in the classroom and our Principal admitted to not even reading the policy until this came up. The Superintendent talked about getting the District’s Principals together to meet about what they are doing in their schools with regard to the Wellness Policy. The Assistant Superintendent wrote a great article to be distributed to the District’s principals that explains the policy, the research and reasoning behind it, and had a ton of great ideas for teachers for alternatives to food rewards. Our Principal let us know she has already talked to the staff and teachers about this issue. All in all, we left feeling really good that our School District and our school wants to do what’s best for our kids. This is great news: they see the problem and they are already doing things to change for the better.
The big lesson here is: if you see something you feel is wrong, don’t be afraid to say so. Speaking up isn’t always easy. Remember what Grandma used to say, ” You catch more bees with honey, than vinegar..”. This is so true. Be kind, don’t get angry or assign blame, don’t get frustrated when the support isn’t what you expected, and when someone admits they are wrong about something, listen to what they have to say.
I’m so glad I said something. I’m feeling really positive about my kids’ future in this school. I know we’ll encounter many challenges along the way, but this was a great success for all of our kids.
Thanks for supporting this important change.
Until next time, Lisa