I'd like to stop birthday treats at my school

  1. Back before I became a school nurse and my own two were starting school, I thought it was a big bummer that our school district did not allow families to bring in cakes, cupcakes, etc. to celebrate birthdays in the classroom. I still remember how excited I would get when a parent walked into my classroom with a big box and we knew we were getting cupcakes Well, now that I am a school nurse, see the obesity epidemic firsthand in my school, and have several kids with severe allergies, I totally get it. As of right now, my school DOES allow parents to bring in treats. When I tell you that our families go WAY over the top, I am not exaggerating. They will bring in a huge cake, individual bags of chips, and juice boxes for the class. And this is served right after lunch. Teachers always call/text me to ask who in their class can't have it due to allergies- it is a pain and I really just wish we could get rid of the practice altogether. I sent out an email to all our teachers last night, asking them their thoughts about having families celebrate birthdays in a non-food way (special craft, 5 minutes longer recess for the class, etc.). MOST of the teachers are totally on board, but a few actually said they wanted to "protect the sacred practice", LOL. I guess I am surprised because when there is a birthday, those same teachers complain it is such a PITA. I am fully prepared for parents to be against getting rid of the practice.

    Anyway, have you been part of outlawing food for birthdays at school? Does your school allow it? Thoughts? Opinions?

    If it matters, I feel like my kids are already eating all day long- breakfast at arrival in the classroom, snack 90 minutes later, lunch an hour after snack, afternoon snack an hour and a half after lunch...throw a cupcake somewhere in there, yikes!!!
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   HyzenthlayLPN
    Last year when my little one was in Pre-K, her class had a rotating snack calendar: a different child brought the class snack each day. She tried to work it so that the birthday child was the child snack on that day so at least it wasn't an extra food event

    The district where I work (and that my children now attend school in) has a 4 day school week and 8 hour school days. They have breakfast at 7:15 (school starts at 7:45) lunch between 11-12 depending on which class they are in and a snack in the afternoon. It seems like a good balance and healthy snacks are encouraged
  4. by   Jedrnurse
    Maybe have a day of the month for all the kids with a birthday that month and limit the goodies to that one day. (Request some other way of honoring the individual kids on their particular b-day.)

    It's a losing battle, the best you can probably do is modify/mitigate the practice...
  5. by   MHDNURSE
    Quote from HyzenthlayLPN
    Last year when my little one was in Pre-K, her class had a rotating snack calendar: a different child brought the class snack each day. She tried to work it so that the birthday child was the child snack on that day so at least it wasn't an extra food event

    The district where I work (and that my children now attend school in) has a 4 day school week and 8 hour school days. They have breakfast at 7:15 (school starts at 7:45) lunch between 11-12 depending on which class they are in and a snack in the afternoon. It seems like a good balance and healthy snacks are encouraged
    My school provides breakfast, lunch and 2 snacks (our school qualifies for state funding to provide all of this b/c of our high poverty levels within the student body).
  6. by   BeckyESRN
    We do NOT allow food for birthdays. And last year, we started to only allow SkinnyPop brand popcorn for parties along with fresh veggies. SkinnyPop comes in a bunch of flavors and they are all gluten, nut, dairy, and egg free-so it covers most of our kiddos!
  7. by   3peas
    I totally get why you want to do it and I work in an over-the-top school as well, but I am not going to cancel birthday celebrations at my school (not that it's really my decision). They are kids and it's their birthday they can celebrate with their friends. We have taken so much fun out of school nowadays, I think this is one thing that can stay. How many student's with allergies do you have? I only had 4 out of 700. I had many more with religious preference not to eat a certain type of food, but not allergy.
  8. by   Windchaser22
    Seems like a party every day. You need to get admin on board first. Does your state have nutrition guidelines you can use as ammo? How much academic time is being lost? Get a team together headed by your principal and approach it from a legal/liability and nutrition perspective. There is still fun to be had, just have to be creative. I had one parent lament that her child's whole school experience would be ruined if we did away with home made treats. Um...really? My daughters school did away with all food parties and the parents lost their collective mind for about a month until something else caught their attention. Good luck and keep us posted.
  9. by   River Song, RN
    My kids go to a private Montessori school but they have a really cool practice in my opinion. When they celebrate birthdays - they do airpop popcorn in the classroom and the child brings in pictures of themselves from different years of their lives and talks about special milestones or memories from each year. Basically they celebrate their life and the kids love telling their life's stories. It seemed odd to me at first but they are trying to avoid the food/sugar centered parties in the afternoons as they just didn't believe it was healthy.

    Sidenote: as a mom of a severe peanut allergic kiddo, when he was in a public school I made sure the teacher had safe treats for my son to have when the parties happened so she didn't have to stress about reading labels and making sure the bakery was peanut free etc.
  10. by   MHDNURSE
    Quote from River Song, RN
    My kids go to a private Montessori school but they have a really cool practice in my opinion. When they celebrate birthdays - they do airpop popcorn in the classroom and the child brings in pictures of themselves from different years of their lives and talks about special milestones or memories from each year. Basically they celebrate their life and the kids love telling their life's stories. It seemed odd to me at first but they are trying to avoid the food/sugar centered parties in the afternoons as they just didn't believe it was healthy.

    Sidenote: as a mom of a severe peanut allergic kiddo, when he was in a public school I made sure the teacher had safe treats for my son to have when the parties happened so she didn't have to stress about reading labels and making sure the bakery was peanut free etc.
    I LOVE this!!
  11. by   MHDNURSE
    So I have a feeling that NOTHING will come of this. After receiving several positive responses for teachers saying they were 100% in agreement, when I told them that that meant that if a parent showed up with cakes, cupcakes, etc., they would need to remind them that they were not allowed and not accept them from the parent, they ALL said "No way am I turning away stuff the parent has already bought and brought to school". So there you have it. My principal told me yesterday "Oh, that IS our policy to not have food brought in, but no one enforces it". This is my THIRD year here and I had no idea it was a policy because I have families bring in treats weekly.

    In answer to a previous poster's question about how many severely allergic kids we have, we have one in 3 out of the 5 K classrooms, 4 out of the 5 1st grade classrooms, and 2 out of the 5 second grade classrooms. We also have several Jehovas Witness kids who have to leave the classroom if there is any type of celebration So honestly, I think it really makes no sense to do treats. Just frustrating because all the teachers say "Yes, please no more treats" yet they have no intention of enforcing the rules.
  12. by   SullyRN
    I feel you. We have a "no home-made treats" policy. I let teachers know if there is a tree nut/peanut allergy in the class. I tell them to put in their class newsletter to make sure all treats from home for the class are labeled "peanut/tree-nut free".

    What's harder than that is the carb counts for my diabetics. Their parents want them to have the treats like everyone else, but a lot of our store bakeries don't put carb counts on their cupcakes. Super frustrating. I did the same with their teachers, told him to put in their newsletter if a class treat is brought in to make sure it has nutrition facts on it. So far it hasn't worked.
  13. by   denstar
    Our school stopped food treats (for birthdays, holiday, etc...) last school year. It was a parent led process, so maybe see if any parents are on board? It was getting ridiculous here, between birthdays and holidays far too many sugary treats were going home, on top of our 40 kids with food allergies I was worried about!!

    I told teachers when we rolled it out that if they felt uncomfortable talking to a parent who brought treats in still, that they could send the parent to me and I would be happy to have that discussion. We had a few parents that were upset with the change, but I think far more were happy we changed it. We also gave parents some suggestions for alternative ways to celebrate birthdays (donating a book to the classroom has been a favorite).
  14. by   NurseCard
    So, let me get this straight... if there is ANY type of celebration, the Jehovah's
    Witness kids are not allowed to take part?? Oh my. And, I'll keep my
    mouth shut... being the open minded person that I am.

    ANYWAY... yeah I get the feeling you are fighting a losing battle, trying to
    outlaw cupcakes, cakes, etc.. Why make your job harder than it
    probably already is? Oh wait, when that diabetic kid comes to your
    office with a 500 blood sugar, or when that kid comes to your office
    with a severe allergic reaction to those nuts that we didn't KNOW
    was in those brownies... ... yeah we get the picture. THOSE
    things are what make your job harder.

    Best thing you can do is keep educating, educating, those
    teachers and the parents, on being careful, and please making
    sure little Johnny Diabeetus has his own snacks.

    I personally find having to bring snacks in for my son's
    birthday to be a pain in the butt, but I do it so he won't
    feel like his momma forgot to make his birthday special.
    Yeah, my kids are snowflakes. I'd probably rejoice if
    the snacks were outlawed.

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