Colorado School Takes Away Oreos, Sends Lunch Rules Home: Lunchables Are Unhealthy, Milk Is Required

A mother in Aurora Colorado says her daughter’s school refused to allow the preschool-aged girl to eat part of her lunch, citing that the Oreos in her lunch were not nutritious. Leeza Pearson isn’t arguing that the four-pack of Oreos she sent in her daughter’s lunch on Friday was especially nutritious, but she is upset that a teacher at Children’s Academy would not allow her daughter to eat what she sent her to school with and is further bothered by the note that was sent home justifying the teacher’s actions and explaining what the teacher presented as the school’s lunch policy.

Pearson said that while there was a four-pack of Oreos in her 5-year-old daughter’s lunch, the lunch sent from home also included a ham and cheese sandwich and string cheese. Pearson told KUSA-TV that there is a larger issue at hand, and what the school finds healthy for her daughter is not necessarily what she finds healthy for her daughter.

“That’s between me and her and our doctor — not the school,” Pearson remarked about her daughter’s diet. The note sent by her daughter’s teacher explained what the teacher presented as the expectations that the school has of the lunches that their students will be consuming while on the school’s campus.

“This is a public school setting and all children are required to have a fruit, a vegetable and a heavy snack from home, along with a milk. If they have potatoes, the child will also need bread to go along with it. Lunchables, chips, fruit snacks, and peanut butter are not considered to be a healthy snack. This is a very important part of our program and we need everyone’s participation.”

On social media, people are attacking the teacher’s decision to judge the lunch that Pearson sent to school.

“Wait wait wait….it is OK for you to judge a parent but you hire teachers that clearly have weight problems,” one Facebook user wrote. “This is why when kids get in the real world at a real job they can not function. I am constantly having to teach basics to kids who work for us because of stupid policies like the BS you are shoveling. So from now on if the kids cant have snacks neither can the teachers.”

Still, Brenda Dean, the director of Children’s Academy, says that she is still investigating the note that was sent home with the 5-year-old over a pack of Oreos, and claims that a letter like that should have never been sent out. The director said that it is not school policy to control what children are allowed to eat. She says that the school’s policy is to promote healthy eating, but always leaves the decision up to the parents. Aurora Public Schools is also looking into the matter.

Online, the preschool, which receives funds through the Aurora Public Schools, boasts that it can handle a wide range of special needs, including dietary needs, however the teacher’s note specified that milk is required as part of all children’s lunches. According to Kids Health, about 10 percent of Americans are lactose intolerant and should not drink milk. A growing number of children have actual milk allergies.

Parents online are saying that it is impossible for schools to address children’s individual dietary needs with a blanket nutritional policy. For example, drinking cow’s milk, as the teacher at Children’s Academy says is required, can increase risks of anemia from blocking iron, while three Oreos, ironically enough, provide about 10 percent of an adult’s RDA of iron. When comparing one cup of 2 percent milk to four Oreos, milk has almost the same amount of sugar, and whereas Oreos have one gram of dietary fiber, milk has none. Though milk offers more protein and calcium, some people do not want their children drinking milk, and feel that should be their decision to make. Even a Harvard nutrition expert called “the world’s most influential nutritionist,” by the Boston Globe, says humans have no nutritional need for the cow’s milk that the Colorado school teacher says is required in every student’s packed lunch.

“But there has been this general belief that we need to consume a lot of milk because that will prevent osteoporosis and fractures. Yet studies that have looked at milk and dairy consumption do not show that people who drink more cow’s milk have lower fracture risk.”

While First Lady Michelle Obama stated last year that it’s “so important for our schools to make the hard calls for our kids, because parents are struggling enough at home,” 80 percent of Americans say that school lunches should not be regulated by government policies. What do you think? Did the teacher at the Colorado preschool have any right to deny Leeza Pearson’s daughter the Oreos her mother packed in her lunch?

[Photo credit: Natasha/Wikipedia]