Mom Threatens School For Serving Her Kid A Cupcake

Here’s a wild New rybzetbnba
York Times piece
about a mom who is fighting mad about  her kid’s school sometimes  serving  junk food. While the school lunches are nutritious, the mom is livid that some party treats, like cupcakes, are not. Quote the mom:  “I thought I was sending my kid to P.S. 9, not Chuck E. Cheese.”

Now, not that I am pro-junk food (said your blogger, popping  another M&M thoughtfully). But  I don’t think we are poisoning our children when they get to eat something sugary at a school birthday party. Or any birthday party. Feed your kids nutritious meals, and then? Let them eat cake. 

Did someone else say that first?

 — L.

81 Responses to Mom Threatens School For Serving Her Kid A Cupcake

  1. andreahg June 17, 2009 at 4:32 am #

    This one isn’t so black and white. It sounds like mom is a bit nutty, but I, too disapprove of all the treats at school. When I was a kid, we didn’t bring in cupcakes or other junk on our birthdays. For Valentines Day, we gave out Valentine cards, that did not have candy attached. This year, my child’s teacher gave every child a full sized Hershey bar and each card had a piece of candy with it. In my opinion, all these cupcakes and treats is yet another example of indulgent parenting. The kids are given treats almost everyday to celebrate things like “a week of class good behavior” or “the whole class turned in their library books on time”. When we were kids, those things were just expected of us and not things to celebrate.

  2. Pamala June 17, 2009 at 4:53 am #

    I personally don’t care about cupcakes and so forth but I have to agree, when I was a kid none of this stuff happened. We ate only what the school served or what we packed for lunch. No birthday parties, no cupcakes, and especially no candy. I do have to wonder why things are celebrated so much these days. Valentines you got a card, that’s it and I sure never did celebrate my birthday at school. I guess I see school as a place to learn, the celebrations are held after school or on the weekends.

  3. Jon June 17, 2009 at 4:58 am #

    I think andreahg has hit it on the nail. While an occasional (homemade, wholesome ingredients- like sugar) cupcake for a birthday isn’t so bad, when the kids are given HFCS treat after HFCS treat, we end up with the obese society that we have now. I would be alarmed if my kid were given treats on a daily basis. The argument of “well that was how it was done when we were kids” doesn’t hold weight when it comes to food either. When we were kids, food contained sucrose(sugar), not HFCS.

  4. KarenW June 17, 2009 at 5:14 am #

    OK, this is a tough one for me. I will admit up front that both myself and my kids are overweight. I’m trying to cut down on the sweets and junk food, and it is very hard when it’s just so…everywhere. But I’m sorry, this lady sounds like a total fanatic health nazi. Isn’t there a way she can simply request that her kids are not given any treats, period, without having to ruin it for everyone else? P.S. – Even if I summon up the willpower to put myself and my family on a diet, there will be the occasional treat, for crying out loud. What is wrong with moderation?

  5. Tami June 17, 2009 at 5:14 am #

    I agree this one isn’t so clear. I could probably be less stingy about giving my kids treats, but I try to balance these with healthy snacks & choose lesser of evils.

    That said, I was APPALLED at how much junk food my kids were exposed to in preschool. Every student birthday (25-30 over a year), every holiday, every visit from the gymnastics teacher (really!). I was flummoxed when Valentine’s Day saw at least as many treats as Halloween!

    I was very relieved to find their public elementary school had a more sane balance to the treats. Otherwise I might’ve had to claim allergies for my kids. 😉

  6. Wren June 17, 2009 at 5:19 am #

    As a former elementary school teacher, I certainly didn’t feed my students sugary treats every day. Yes, they received some candy on Valentine’s day, some even *gasp* provided by me. And when there was a birthday, parents had the option to bring in cupcakes to celebrate. About 50% of the parents actually did this because most didn’t have time, as school policy did not allow the parents to leave the cupcakes with teachers so we would not have to take time out of teaching or our lunch breaks to pass out goodies.

    I now teach preschool, and am thrilled that I am in a school that allows sugar from time to time. A teacher at a neighboring preschool was actually scolded for merely hanging pictures of cupcakes on her classroom wall!

    Everything needs to be in moderation. I don’t advocate candy and cake every day, but every once in a while it doesn’t hurt. Obesity is caused when children (and adults) eat these things constantly and get no exercise.

    I think the bigger issue here is a woman who is trying to make the decision about what all of the children eat at the school. If she wants her kids to stay away from sugar or HFCS, that’s fine, but I wouldn’t want her aggressive rants to spoil my kids’ childhoods. Every time a person (or legislator) tries to make a decision about how you raise your children, free range parenting is being threatened.

  7. Carolyn June 17, 2009 at 5:22 am #

    I suppose its no accident that this woman’s name is MeMe??? I feel bad for the children. They can’t be getting any playdates. I know I would be afraid to have them in my house for fear of being reported to the “correctness police.”

    Seriously, control what the kids eat at home, give them ample opportunity for physical exercise, and if they have the occasional treat outside the home, what’s the harm?

  8. Kelly June 17, 2009 at 5:22 am #

    I remember cupcakes and cookies at little birthday parties when I was in elementary school. I remember bringing them for my own birthday. No one cared then, and I certainly don’t care if my kids get an occasional cupcake at school. All things in moderation — there’s nothing wrong with a celebratory sweet every now and then.

  9. Mike June 17, 2009 at 5:27 am #

    I’m going to go against the grain on these comments and say that this isn’t a tough one. I think kids should be able to have treats at school. I remember growing up and brining in cupcakes on my birthday and it wasn’t about being able to gorge on the sugar, but it was the pride of not being the kid who brought in celery and peanut butter. [Of course these days you can’t bring that in either because someone might be allergic to peanuts.] I don’t think a cupcake every now and then (and yes 25-30 times a year is every now and then) is going to change the outcome of someones nutritional life very much. As for all for the candy I highly doubt the teachers let them eat it all in class. If they do then they get to reap what they sow with sugar-crazed kids. When my kids bring home candy from a class party they know they are only going to get a couple pieces at a time and usually over many days. Like anything else kids should be educated on healthy food and not every treat that comes in to the classroom should be cupcakes with extra frosting, but I would be a hypocrite if I said I don’t really love the donuts that get brought into the office.

  10. KateNonymous June 17, 2009 at 5:29 am #

    I remember getting treats if we scored perfectly on spelling lessons for the week. The treat? One single, solitary, individual piece of candy. You know. Like a butterscotch drop, or a peppermint.

    The question, I think, is how often treats are offered, what they’re offered for, and how substantive they are. A single piece of candy once a week wasn’t doing anything to our teeth or waistlines. But then again, this is when we were allowed to go outside and play.

    That said, this woman sounds like she’s so caught up in her cause that she has no sense of perspective. Why is she making her kids collect this food? Why can’t she tolerate discussion of her edicts, as in the Corn Chip Incident?

    The more I read the article, the more Ms. Roth sounds like she’s modeling her tactics after those used by PETA. I wonder if she’ll start throwing high-fructose corn syrup on people. And I’m only partially joking.

  11. Delphi June 17, 2009 at 5:31 am #

    MeMe Roth… while I agree with her 90% of the time, I feel she’s afraid of fat people. She came from a family of obese people and is desperately scared of being fat herself. She claims to not have an eating disorder, but at the same time have all the symptoms of someone with an eating disorder. (I should know, I have an eating disorder too.)

    I would take what she says with a grain of salt. While they’re often really good topics and really things we should be concerned about, (like feeding kids junk food, calorie labels in restaurant chains, not have the “fat acceptance” movement but let people lose weight for their health), I feel she often takes it too far. The “I am angry and crazy” approach doesn’t always work.

  12. silvermine June 17, 2009 at 5:33 am #

    I’m on the fence too — I think if she wants to be crazy and believe the obesity epidemic stuff, that’s her thing, and they are her kids.

    What if the kids had a food allergy or medical issue or something? Hopefully they would know not to eat it, but the teachers should be aware of that sort of thing too. I know at least one person who decided to homeschool because the school would not do the very minimum things to help her diabetic child. Like allow her her medicine, or timely blood sugar tests. (To the point that they made her take a test when her blood sugar was dangerously low, and wouldn’t even let her re-take it when she failed it due to, you know, not having a working brain.)

    So yeah, she’s a jerk, but still, people need to respect *parents*. Even the crazy ones.

  13. Jamie In Vancouver June 17, 2009 at 5:38 am #

    As some one who has a serious gluten allergy senerio is no that kids were given cupcakes in school but that the parents weren’t notified that children were getting cupcakes ahead of time.

    All a parent needs to do is notify their teachers of their child’s diet and then that teacher SHOULD notify the parent should the class be having any communal food.

    Teachers can’t know parents wishes if they’re not informed and parents need to inform teachers if they wish their children to maintain a specific diet.

  14. Thad Moren June 17, 2009 at 5:45 am #

    She should move to California.

  15. Angie June 17, 2009 at 5:57 am #

    Just as another data point, I’m 45 and we had birthdays at school with cupcakes, although not every person’s birthday; it was only when the mom was willing to bring stuff in. We had candy/cookies/etc. at Christmas, Halloween and Valentine’s Day, and one year in high school we did a cookie exchange with everyone baking a batch of something kinda-sorta ethnic from their own background. (It was for social studies.) So it’s not like this is a recent phenomenon. Maybe it varied from area to area? I’m in California, and grew up in the South Bay (centered on San Jose) if that makes a difference.

    And IMO this mom needs to fight for some sort of anti-permission slip for kids with health nut parents, not to banish all sweet stuff from school period. Let her kid be pitied rather than hated by the rest of the students. 😛


  16. Uly June 17, 2009 at 5:59 am #

    Well… there’s an occasional cupcake and then there’s going overboard.

    My niece’s kindergarten class has 24 students. There are two birthdays a month. In addition, they have a class party every time they get 20 compliments from parents (class parties involve more cupcakes and candy), they have a class party every time the students write a new book (more cupcakes!), they have a class party every holiday (more cupcakes!!!), and now they’re having one for bringing in more boxtops than the rest of the school. The end of October they actually had three parties in a week, and one the following Monday!

    Each class party has not only cupcakes but other treats as well, and juice, and they come home with goody bags.

    And I carefully go through and confiscate all the garbage Ana brings home (food coloring gives her massive mood swings – tantrums and crying jags followed by hysterical, unstoppable laughter) and she doesn’t eat most of the treats at school either because she has a dairy intolerance. So at the end of the day, she’s a seriously unhappy kiddo because everybody else got a treat and she couldn’t. We’re not even *informed* most of the time because the parents can’t be bothered to follow the 2-week notification they’re supposed to and just show up the day of the party with “Oh, didn’t we tell you?”, so we can’t send in our own alternate treat.

    We had class parties as kids too. I don’t remember them being quite that frequent, and I remember that we had less treats in the parties – one cupcake per kid, not two (and I suspect they were smaller), and a handful of pretzels or potato chips, not a handful of cookies. Goody bags then, at least at school, didn’t include candy. (Of course, we had soda instead of water or juice, so there you go.)

  17. Melissa June 17, 2009 at 6:07 am #

    It depends on the reasons. Friends of ours have a daughter (and father) who are hypo-glycemic, and a cupcake can send their 5 year old daughter into an hours-long sugar crash during which time she can be almost uncontrollable. I did not read the article yet, but searching on “hypo” finds nothing.

  18. Melissa June 17, 2009 at 6:09 am #

    p.s. they have this issue at their child’s preschool and school almost constantly, because nobody can seem to understand that yes, there definitely are circumstances under which an uncontrolled amount of raw, unprocessed sugar can be very harmful to a child

  19. Ashley June 17, 2009 at 6:11 am #

    MeMe Roth is a well-publicized nut job. If you read a single fat-friendly blog (I recommend you come across her eventually in her one-woman crusade to rid the world of fat people by giving everyone an eating disorder.

    It’s pretty funny, actually, how much attention the media gives her. She’s touted as the head of National Action Against Obesity, when really she’s the only person in the entire organization, has no medical or nutrition training (oh, wait, this year she completed a 6 month online course), and recently stated that she won’t eat until she’s run 4 miles. Every. Day.

    This is just another publicity stunt, and the fact that anyone thinks this is reasonable shows just how much we hate food and fat people

  20. Denise June 17, 2009 at 6:23 am #

    This too for me is a no-brainer.

    A little sugar every now and then isn’t harmful to most kids…and if it is harmful to your kids…let the school know you don’t want your kids to have any.

    But parents would rather everyone be restricted than their child be left out. Well, for goodness sake…take it upon yourself to keep a supply of treats on hand that your child can have in these situations.

    If you don’t want the overload of sugar that comes in these class parties…then be the one to volunteer to bring in the treats…and you can make sure it’s up to your standards.

    If your child has an allergy, ask the teacher to give you a list of class birthdays…so you can make sure to send a non-threatening treat with your child to school that day.

    Instead of forcing everyone else to fit with what you want…why not do what you can to make sure that your child is prepared?

    There are circumstances when my children are singled out. For example…we are one of the only families that does not allow our children to receive sex education at school. Our children learn the same things as the other kids…and even in the same time frame…but my husband and I are the ones to teach them.

    And what happens when these things are taught at school? My kids are hauled out of class and given “homework” while the other kids watch a movie.

    Is it fair? No. But, we do what we can to make it work…and our children have learned the importance of standing up for what you believe in.

    Even if what you believe in is a little less sugar in child’s diet.

  21. Coco June 17, 2009 at 6:26 am #

    Did anyone actually scan down the entire article? The woman is a known hysteric. The article mentions several instances where she has come unhinged about anything she perceives as “dangerous” food. It’s not about an overabundance of treats for HER children. It’s about ANY food MeMe Roth does not think should be served to ANY child.

    Ashley’s right – MeMe Roth is on a one-woman campaign for…MeMe Roth.

    Personally, I think a treat at school for special occasions is fine. I think cupcakes are fine. I don’t think treats in school are creating a legion of diabetics to come. I think if parents don’t want their kids eating a kind of food, for whatever reason, it’s up to them to discreetly offer some alternative, not screech like their child is being offered heroin.

    I think the article is a foolish waste of time.

  22. Ashley June 17, 2009 at 6:43 am #

    Oh, I discovered MeMe Roth about 2 years ago when she was making the circuits stating outright that no woman’s body should change in any way from the date of their wedding. It was called the “wedding dress project” and if you can’t fit into your wedding dress anymore, regardless of reason, you’re clearly unhealthy.

    I actually emailed her saying “well, mine doesn’t fit anymore because my boobs grew” (Somehow I got a hormonal boob job and went from a 36C to, now, a 40G in less than 3 years) and she responded saying that I should still try to “maintain a healthy lifestyle” so I can keep my 22 year old body.

    Because clearly if you don’t have the exact same figure you did when you were 22 (or whenever you married), you’re unhealthy. As human bodies never change, you know.

  23. KarenW June 17, 2009 at 6:48 am #

    Wow, the more I hear about MeMe, the more I hate her. This kind of fanaticism does not inspire me to lose weight – it makes me think “Why even bother?” I would rather be fat than be a psycho who’s afraid of every bite of food.

  24. Uly June 17, 2009 at 7:07 am #

    Reading more on this woman – it’s true, she is a on the… obsessive side. And her loss.

    Doesn’t mean there isn’t a point hidden in there.

    I’m not opposed to occasional treats myself (though I like to be informed of big things going on, thanks very much). But in a lot of schools those treats *aren’t* occasional.

  25. Melissa June 17, 2009 at 7:22 am #

    erm, processed sugar, sorry, not unprocessed

  26. Elizabeth June 17, 2009 at 7:26 am #

    I once complained about the fact that my daughter’s pre-school had on their holiday party sign-up sheet cookies, cupcakes, doughnut holes, and ice-cream. I suggested that only one of those items would be enough and that the kids were being given too much sugar. The school quickly and thoughtfully responded and now sign-up sheets list cookies, mini-muffins, fresh fruit, and a veggie platter. I agree that too much of ANY thing is a bad thing and that six different kinds of sugary snacks is too much for a 3 year old. As a culture we reward too much with food and people forget that sometimes the reward is knowing you did the right thing or that you had a good time. I agree with the basic message of moderation in all things. I don’t let my kids eat a lot of junk food and I try to make sure that the cookies and cakes they eat are homemade so that I can control the ingredients, but a birthday party is a birthday party for goodness sakes!

    My daughter is 4 and asks me if the food she eats is healthy. I tell her as long as she eats lots of different things and tries a little bit of everything her dad and I are eating she’s doing great. As Julia Child said “Small helpings, no seconds, no snacking, and a little bit of everything.”

  27. James June 17, 2009 at 7:56 am #

    I find it hard to believe that her tactics are more effective than teaching her kids to say “No, thank you.”

  28. Jennifer June 17, 2009 at 8:20 am #

    As others have said, there are 2 separate points here. 1. This woman sounds like a nut. 2. She’s right. Neither is really relevant to your blog. I think we agree on the first point, so I’ll address the second. Say the average public school class has 25 students. That’s 25 cupcakes in the course of a year. Plus 4 or 5 holidays makes about 30 days when the kids are being served junk. That’s one day a week. If parents are trying to avoid giving their kids junk, once a week is a lot. And it isn’t the school’s place to provide junk food to kids. They, in fact, have a legal obligation (yes, it’s a law) to provide nutritious food to children. I can’t even think of what to say about her kids’ first school where they were served bagels and Pringles for lunch! And donuts in a gym class?! Yes, this woman is crazy, but you can be crazy and right at the same time.

  29. Coco June 17, 2009 at 8:52 am #

    I think the problem here is that MeMe Roth is NOT right. She’s blowing a perfectly solvable (for her children) situation out of proportion and claiming it’s “for the good of all”, when it clearly is not.

    Like I said, if you don’t want your kids eating x number of whatever, then suggest reasonable alternatives. For example:

    Ask that birthdays be celebrated as a group monthly, or quarterly and perhaps the parents could chip in for a group treat.

    Ask if for holidays sweet treats be given at the end of the day in wrapped packages only.

    Ask if your child can bring a treat you make or approve of for snack days.

    Ask if you can serve on a committee that might have sway over school lunch programs, or making suggestions that include a variety of foods for lunch menus. Failing that, pack a lunch for your kid.

    MeMe Roth does not do that. Instead, she screams, she throws candy at administrators, she is abrasive, she sanctimoniously preaches to the media and sends plastic containers to school to “catch” the school “poisoning” her child. She goes “crazy” (her own word).

    There’s a fine line between not wanting your own kid to eat a cupcake at school every week and doing something you feel is a good compromise to the situation versus acting like a completly entitled and slef-righteous jackass who thinks it’s her place to police other parents, the schools, the principals and everyone else who doesn’t subscribe to her viewpoint. The sad part is, she rants about her daughter being singled out in the ice pop incident, when the Tupperware Container of Shame is what really does the job. I mean, maybe the teacher could have handled the situation better, assuming Ms Roth isn’t merely adding her usual histrionics to any given day, but honestly? If I were the teacher, being relentlessly grilled by one of my students about the evils of juice pops and cupcakes when that child’s parents could easily just have taught her to say “No, thanks.”, I’d proably lose my composure about the corn chips she’d just consumed too.

  30. Colin Principe June 17, 2009 at 8:52 am #

    This woman is nuts, and so is everyone who is obsessing over the occasional sweet treat at school. We can’t raise free range kids if we obsess over every single thing they eat.

  31. Kimberly June 17, 2009 at 9:16 am #

    What about the kids with food allergies?

    If their parents have been training them correctly – they ask to read the label themselves. The parents need to focus on staying healthy instead of poor child is deprived because they can’t do X that everyone else is doing. That is what my parents focused on and I never felt deprived – the treats were not treats to me they were unpleasant trips to the ER. I only eat food from people I trust to pay attention and know what is in mixes etc.

    I remember being amazed growing up when people thought my sister and cousin should be deprived because I couldn’t do something. For example the lady behind us at a face painting stand. I couldn’t have my face painted due to a skin condition common in people with peanut allergy. It would have sent me into orbit with itching and all of us to the ER if the reaction was bad enough.

    The lady told my parents they were being cruel. I looked at her and said, “We got the same number of tickets and I’m doing Spin Art next”

  32. Elizabeth The Kitchen Vixen June 17, 2009 at 9:25 am #

    I shared some interview time on a radio show with Ms. Roth and I was very put-off by her abrasive and uncompassionate attitude toward obesity.

    More than anything I want to end the obesity epidemic and all of the associated comorbidities but taking such aggressive actions and making such harsh comments as she does only causes more people to rebel and fewer positive actions to be taken by the masses.

    I always say that what we dislike in others, we fear in ourselves.

    I will be the first to admit that I grew up eating “junk food” and this is what spawned my nutrition career.

    I’ll bet dollars for donuts that Ms. Roth did too!

    It would be nice if she allowed her children to live their childhood or else she may just be fostering some future rebels of her own.

  33. Angeline Duran Piotrowski June 17, 2009 at 9:29 am #

    I wonder how old her children are. When my oldest son was 3 1/2 he began attending the preschool at the local public school. Yes, the school served a nutritious lunch, but he only attended 1/2 day of preschool so that didn’t apply to him. He would eat a tiny 3-year-old breakfast around 8am, be starving by 10am when preschool served his snack (included in tuition), and then come home for lunch around noon. During birthday season they had cupcakes or cookies for snack almost every day. That means that my 3 yr old would go from 8am to noon with nothing but pure sugar for a snack. Add to this that he does not respond well to sugar at all. It makes him angry, cry a lot, and then totally exhausted. I bit my tongue and didn’t say anything to the teacher about it because I got the sense that she knew it wasn’t ideal, but I must admit it did bug me.

    I know, I know. Let the kids have a little birthday treat. But there are sometimes when there is just too much junk food served at school. And for a little kids who typically eat several small meals a day to keep them going, you don’t want the school to be the ones to make that meal junk. I have higher expectations of school. I wonder if for that mom it was an isolated event or if she was fed up with a too-frequent occurence of sugary treats. If the latter was the case I have to say I sympathize. Especially if her children are small.

  34. Christopher Byrne June 17, 2009 at 9:40 am #

    While the issue is sweets and aside from kids with diabetes or other medical problems, moderation doesn’t seem to be harmful. (I know several young diabetics who simply abstain with no drama from the cupcakes and other treats, which is remarkably mature for an 11-year-old.)

    What is harmful is the stridency and attention-seeking of Ms. Roth. Of course she’s going to present herself as a nut job; that’s what makes media and sparks “controversy.” There are rational solutions, but they don’t make good copy.

    1. Ban all sweets in the classroom. It’s happened with peanuts; it can happen with cupcakes. Just as typical child is damaged by the occasional cupcake, no child is damaged by missing it either.

    2. Provide alternatives to kids who can’t have sweets, whether medically indicated or nutjob-parent indicated. Small toys can be given as gifts. Products like Crayola and Play-Doh come in containers that are great for this and actually cost less than the cost of a cupcake per child.

    3. Model good eating for your kids. When we interview kids and families about eating, it’s not surprising to find that the kids’ habits mirror the parents. Kids who don’t live in homes with abundant soda and corn chips, etc. don’t gravitate to those snacks.

    4. Create a monthly party for the class that celebrates all the birthdays in the month, resulting in fewer cupcakes per capita on an annualized basis.

    Ms. Roth scares me because she seems to make food an enemy to be subdued. Where is the pleasure in moderation? Where is the emphasis on exercise? Simply demonizing the simple cupcake is overkill. Where is the perspective and the ability to make a choice based on real information. This whole thing sounds a little bit like the early Puritans. I would expect to see some poor teacher or parent placed in the stocks or forced to wear a scarlet BC (for Betty Crocker). At this level of extremity, it becomes ridiculous.

    Plus this kind of vehemence often backfires because it makes the object forbidden fruit. (We saw this with TV bans in the 90s.) Will Roth’s kids be sneaking Twinkies behind the 7-11 when they get to Jr. High? Demonizing, blaming and histrionics make entertaining media, but what does that model for kids as a daily behavior? The drama of the Tupperware thing seems Draconian and overwrought. What happened to teaching your kids to say, “No, thank you.”

    It boggles the mind that in order to validate one’s own choices, so many people have to repudiate other people’s.

    It would be interesting to see how much obesity Ms. Roth has averted as a function of the upset she has caused.

  35. Dayna June 17, 2009 at 9:49 am #

    When I was a kid Valentines day, Halloween and birthdays at school were full of candy and junk food. Now, my son’s school sends reminders home about not making treats for birthdays.

  36. justanotherjen June 17, 2009 at 10:43 am #

    She thinks a few cupcakes a month is a problem. When my oldest was in public school they got a special treat every Friday…it was always cookies, cake, candy, popsicles. That was every Friday on top of the birthdays and class parties. Not to mention there was always junk available at lunch. My dd got free lunches but in 1st grade was allowed to buy chips and cookies and stuff if she had money in her account (which she had left over from kindergarten). I got a bill from food service because she was buying junk food every day and I didn’t know it. It irritated me but after awhile I just got used to it.
    Now they only get treats for birthdays (once or twice a month) and holidays. Since they rarely ever have that stuff at home I don’t sweat it. The only time we have cake at home is on their birthdays (that’s 4 a year) so a couple cupcakes a month isn’t a big deal.

    Ms. Roth sounds like a complete nut. Because she has issues with food she thinks she can dictate what the entire class can and can’t have.

  37. Carol June 17, 2009 at 10:52 am #

    So out of 25 students, none have birthday during the summer or a parent that wont/can’t bring sugary cake for the kids birthday? We had birthday cupcakes (and got to wear a crown!) on our birthdays.

    Most schools are hyper vigilent for children with known allergies or other issues. A child with hypoglycemia should be known to the teacher (and parents) so an alternative cna be brought. But why should all the children have to be punished on the off possibilty that one child may have an issue? and where does it end? No cake (or pb and j) because a kid has a gluten issue? No meat sandwiches because someone in the class is a vegan?

    And why assume that all the cupcakes have HFCS or TFAs in them? I make my own – and I assure you they do know contain either.

    There is stuff we don’t choose to eat as a family, ad my kids know how to refuse. They also pack their own lunches. Without supervision.

  38. Jen June 17, 2009 at 11:11 am #

    This is a bit off topic but related to some comments about food allergies, which are probably not meant to be offensive but to those parents with kids with severe food allergies (life-threatening) this is not something where we want to hear about how “these days” you can’t even bring in peanut butter to some schools or classrooms. Everyone knows how severe the nut allergies can be, and a small inconvenience like that is simply part of being a community, of being good neighbors and good citizens, of thinking beyond MeMe.

  39. Uly June 17, 2009 at 11:16 am #

    No, Carol. They all come in June. Or September.

    And they don’t just bring cupcakes (or even just BIG cupcakes), they bring several per kid and other treats and candy filled goody bags as well.

    And anyway, how is it punishing a kid to say “Only reasonable amounts of treats in the classroom”? It’s only punishing them if you say “You, you, and you can have cupcakes – but the rest of you can’t!” Is it punishing them that they don’t have cupcakes every single day, but only a few times a week? Of course not.

    Cupcakes are not essential to birthday happiness – especially not when you consider most of these children have a class party, and then a family party, and then their own birthday party. How many cupcakes are truly necessary???

    Oh wait. That’s what happens to my six year old niece just about once a week. It’s *hard* for a small child, even though she understands why. In the beginning part of the year, she’d cry over this.

    Obviously nobody is going to ban meat just because one child is a vegan, but it’d be crass for them to throw a barbecue for the whole class, during school hours, when she couldn’t eat any of it.

  40. KW June 17, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    I have a feeling a lot of these “outrages” will have me thankful we homeschool. 🙂 Now i have a few comments on this. Most of my kids have problems w/ artificial food dyes (causes headaches and hyperactivity). My children have learned to ask before eating, to bring things home to be screened (where we trade out the things they can have) and they delight in giving their treats away to their father or cousins when they can’t have them.

    Sure, it can be hard to be the only kid not eating, but at the same time they have lived with this most of their lives and it is normal for them. They are certainly not deprived of treats! When they are in rel ed or vacation Bible school etc, I discuss the treats issue with the food coordinator and leave a box of approved treats for my kids for those times when needed. No biggie.

    I do know however that this can be a huge deal to a child w/ food allergies/sensitivities who doesn’t discover them until they are older. In those cases, the child often eats the food anyway which can have a devastating effect on their health. Or the child feels very depressed and left out. It’s a tricky thing to navigate and I think a TON depends on how helpful and cooperative the school chooses to be.

  41. Cheryl June 17, 2009 at 12:29 pm #

    This woman may be nuts. However, I’m a teacher–and I have to say that the amount of sweets that were recently being handed to kids in my district were completely appalling. As a parent, I found it quite upsetting.

    When we were kids, it wasn’t the norm for parents to bring cupcakes to school and expect them to be served for their child’s birthday in the classroom. Nowadays, just like the ridiculous over-the-top gajillion dollar birthday parties, the treats at school have become a competition. Parents were constantly bringing huge cupcakes to school for their kid’s birthday and every other conceivable celebration. Not only was it an obscene, several-times-a-week amount of sugar, it was also a major infringement on classroom time. I’m also a parent. My kid would OFTEN (not occasionally) eat two large, heavily frosted cupcakes (full of transfats) at school, then go to the district-run childcare and be given a full-sized candy bar.

    My district has swung too far in the other direction with a restrictive policy. I am HUGELY in favor of free-range kids. However, it should be MY decision as a parent what sweets my kid eats. Which is quite reasonable. In fact he just finished a large bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce. It is unreasonable to expect a child, especially in early elementary school, to say “No, thank you” when everyone else is enjoying sugar.

    Parents should throw their kids’ birthday parties at home, not at school.

  42. Mike June 17, 2009 at 12:55 pm #

    I wanted to respond back to the comment on food alergies that Jen left. I did make some snide comment about peanut butter and I apologize. I know some kids with lethal peanut allergies and it is no fun at all. Just going to a baseball game is a logistical nightmare and the parents have to be hyper-vigilant. I guess I was just in mid rant and was going to take down anything food related. Sorry about that.

  43. knutty knitter June 17, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    Birthday parties at school were non existent when I was at school. Any child with a birthday might get happy birthday sung and that was it. Treats for good work were stickers and stamps not food. School parties were once a year and Valentines day was non existent.

    School was for school and parties were for weekends. None of us were deprived of anything and all of us aspired to the stickers/stamps just the same.

    What is it with food these days!

    viv in nz

  44. Nicola June 17, 2009 at 2:31 pm #

    Oh – My – Goodness.

    Denise, thank you for being a voice of reason.

    I fail to understand how we are sitting here, supposedly free-range parents, capable of common sense, yet we’re saying that treats in school are bad. Good lord, people!

    Denise hit it on the head perfectly.

    I have a son who is not able to have gluten (celiac disease). I would NEVER go through trying to limit everyone else from having cookies and cupcakes, I go out and buy my son treats so he can have them and they are safe for him. Everyone in the school (teachers) knows my son can’t have gluten, and he is certain to tell them if they don’t.

    The trouble with obese kids is NOT starting at school, it’s starting at HOME. If you don’t want fat kids, don’t feed them things that will make them fat, and don’t feed them in excess. My children rarely get cookies and junk food, so I have NO problem when they get some at school because it IS a treat! We don’t load them down with Twinkies and Ho-Ho’s and Ice Cream and Chips at home – they eat healthy 90% of the time and that other 10% is so I can relax when the school dishes out a treat for someone’s birthday or a holiday.

    We are free-rangers… since when did we all suddenly become nazi’s on the schools for letting our kids have a snack, but can’t comprehend why they’re making all the rules to stop our kids from being “free?”

    *shakes head*

  45. Deb June 17, 2009 at 7:03 pm #

    My 2nd grader has never experienced a school birthday party and probably never will since we don’t plan on moving. Most of the school districts around here don’t celebrate birthdays at school with a party. The elementary schools have 2 parties a year… ‘holiday’ party the day before Christmas break and a Valentines Day party. I’m actually OK with it more than I thought I’d be. My sister’s kids have a party at school every 1-2 weeks… that eats up (yes, pun intended) many hours of precious time they have to teach. The poor teachers already have limited resources.

    They do notice birthdays and honor the birthday kid, just not with a party. They get a birthday “It’s my special day” ribbon to wear and for the day they are line leader, can skip the homework that night, 1st in lunch line, the person the teacher picks to run errands to office, etc.

    As for the healthy eating thing… we feed our kids healthy food 90% of the time so I really don’t care what they eat the other 10% of the time. I don’t rule out sweets completely because it’ll backfire. Kids (and adults!) want what they can’t have. If a kid never gets a candy bar, he’ll stuff his face until he’s sick whenever he gets his hands on a bag of them and no one is around.

  46. Tom June 17, 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    From the article, this guy had it best:

    ‘“She has some valid points, but the way she delivers them is abrasive,” said Jim Stanek, a fellow P.S. 9 parent’

    Is the school offering too many treats? Probably…
    Is the woman insane and making her kids social outcasts? Probably.

  47. crossgirl June 17, 2009 at 8:06 pm #

    As soon as I saw this was a MeMe Roth incident, I quit reading. Ugh.

  48. Sandra June 17, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

    It’s going to be lovely when this child gets away from mom and binges, become diabetic and obese.

    The forbidden fruit – a perfectly fine safe yummy fruit, but when it’s forbidden, it becomes an obsession.

    I’ve seen it.

  49. BMS June 17, 2009 at 9:14 pm #

    I worry about the lack of healthy choices in some school cafeterias more than the occasional classroom treat.

    But I also wonder why other parents who are concerned about what their kids are eating at lunch don’t just, I dunno, pack their lunch? I don’t stress about the occasional treat, because I pack them healthy lunches every day. They may not eat all of it, but they bring home what they don’t, so I know what they are getting on a daily basis.

    Classifying food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ does the kids no service. As long as no one is getting fed something they are allergic to, I have better things to do than get all up in arms over the occasional treat.

  50. Rachel June 17, 2009 at 9:44 pm #

    I feel sad for the daughter, who was caught in the middle of what her mother told her to do and what her teacher told her to do. “The teacher told Ms. Roth’s daughter to eat it or lose it, and according to the child pointed out that she had seen the young girl eating the corn chips served with school lunch — did that not count as junk food?” I would have been angry if the teacher had said that to my child; I don’t think it’s fair to put a kid in the middle, no matter how much the teacher disagreed with the parent’s decision.

    It seems to me that this mother has her own serious food and control issues, and it’s too bad that others (especially her children) are also having to deal with her issues.

  51. HappyNat June 17, 2009 at 10:09 pm #

    Having sweets at school every so often won’t hurt kids. Having a batty mom who is over the top concerned about junk food and who likes to throw fits at PTA meetings will damage the poor kids for life.

  52. Jen June 17, 2009 at 10:37 pm #

    Ok, I’m late diving into this one but please bear with me: MeMe Roth is one of the biggest fat haters and fat myth perpetuators EVER. This woman is a beast and a junk-food and health fanatic. Those who’ve commented and said “Everything in moderation, and yes, that means ‘junk’ food too!” were right on. MeMe will never agree though, and will never understand how the forbidden fruit will become an obsession (thanks for that great analogy, Sandra!)

    Food is not ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Food is anything you can put into your mouth and eat that’s got calories and some kind of nutritional content. That’s it. This is another area where we HAVE TO TRUST OUR KIDS and let them make their own choices about food. Obesity is NOT the monster the media makes it out to be, and childhood obesity is NOT the worst thing facing kids today.

    Please read the following if you’re interested in learning more about childhood obesity and the myths and paradoxes surrounding it, as well as the failure of school lunch programs to do anything to slow down or stop childhood obesity: .

  53. sylvia_rachel June 17, 2009 at 10:59 pm #

    Wait, wait. This mum is willing to go to these absurd lengths to keep her kids’ diet junk-food-free, yet she’s not willing to … um … pack them lunches? She can’t be bothered to make a couple of sandwiches and wash a couple of apples in the morning, yet somehow it’s the school’s fault that her kids are being offered foods she doesn’t approve of?

    Am I the only one who finds this a little … illogical?

    Look, I fight this battle, too. My husband’s idea of a really good snack is half a bag of potato chips; he thinks “fruit to go” (think Fruit Roll-Ups, but smaller and without the wacky colouring) is a healthy snack for the kiddo, “because look, it’s made from fruit!” (Yeah: it’s all the sugar from the fruit, with almost none of the fibre, squished together to make it sticky so it will really, really stick to her teeth. Terrific. Thanks.) I do think kids’ exposure to junk food – and, worse, to junk food packaged as “healthy alternatives” – is worse than it was 20 years ago, and I do agree it’s a problem.

    But unless we’re talking about someone who’s actually allergic to something – in which case, surely the solution is “No, thank you!” rather than the Tupperware Container of Dooooooom? – the odd cupcake or Freezie or whatever is not the end of the world. Balance, moderation, providing healthy choices, getting outside and running around, reasonable portion sizes: these, it seems to me, are the most effective tools in the obesity-fighting toolbox.

    Really, the more I think about it, the more the whole Tupperware thing squicks me out. (In fact, it kind of reminds me of that Steve Martin movie Parenthood — you know, where the wife of the flashcard-wielding Rick Moranis character keeps a stash of Twinkies and Jos. Louis in her closet because she can’t stand the health-food “power-eating” glop he makes them all eat? — and makes me wonder whether in fact Ms Roth is keeping the junk food away from her kids just so she can eat it herself after they’re asleep. But that would be lashon hara. So forget I said it.) Seriously, even if you can’t bring yourself to let the kids eat the cupcakes, why is it not enough to tell them to say “No, thank you”? Why the confrontational approach, which sooner or later was bound to lead to something humiliating like the “eat it or lose it” incident?

    It may be that the whole set-up seems extra weird to me because I have never even seen, let alone eaten in or sent my kid to eat in, an elementary-school cafeteria: where I live, most daycares serve lunch but schools, at least up to junior high level, generally don’t. So my kid and all her friends bring their own lunches to school, as my friends and I did at the same age (except, of course, for those who lived close enough to walk home for lunch, which in those days one was allowed to do…); and they trade items back and forth, no doubt, and kiddo tells me that so-and-so’s mum packs her a treat every single day and why is she only allowed a treat on Fridays? And I am happy with what my kid is eating and, frankly, don’t worry at all about what her friends’ parents are sending in their lunch, and nobody is pitching fits at School Council about the content of lunches.

    Of course, thanks to the school board’s new (as of fall 2007) no-nuts-no-peanuts policy, we can no longer send in treats for any occasion unless they are certifiably nut-free, which means fewer homemade baked goods and more lollipops and mini bags of Lays. But that’s a whole other story 😛

  54. KBF June 17, 2009 at 11:15 pm #

    There’s a time and a place for everything, but I like that my kids’ school tells parents to avoid all sugar treats for birthdays. Hardly any of the parents listen and my kids end up coming home with cupcake faces and a baggie of candy for most kid’s birthdays. I’ve been making fruit kabobs and the kids love them (apparently anything impaled on a stick is extra yummy). I’m proud that I make something the kids love and that isn’t full of sugar or made with ingredients I can’t read. I just have to be careful because if it gets out that the treats aren’t made in a factory I could get shut down.
    (And for the record I love sweets myself and my kids have them at home. I am also fat and would love to teach my children better eating habits than I myself have…wishful thinking?)

  55. Timmy Mac June 17, 2009 at 11:25 pm #

    Cupcakes every now and then aren’t going to hurt anyone, and like someone said, if she wants to put her own kids on a no-cupcakes-at-school regimen, that’s fine, but why should everybody’s kids have to suffer because of her obvious mental disorders?

  56. dar205 June 17, 2009 at 11:32 pm #

    Perhaps it is because I am in my 40’s or perhaps because I went to a smaller school in Oregon, but we had cupcakes for Birthday parties, candy on Valentine’s Day (to this day I can no longer stand those candy hearts) and various candies on Halloween.

    I feel a bit sorry for the others who weren’t given treats on special occasions.

    (Not that it doesn’t annoy me when the birthday part is held at the end of the day so the kids eat there sugar and are then sent home, but that is a different issue.)

  57. BMS June 17, 2009 at 11:57 pm #

    Why do I get the feeling this woman’s daughter is going to be hospitalized for an eating disorder someday?

  58. Cheryl June 18, 2009 at 1:04 am #

    Good heavens people, I keep hearing the word “occasional.” Wake up–this isn’t “occasional” anymore. As I posted earlier, until my district made a new policy that parents could only bring food for 2 parties a year, this was a 1-3 times a week event, and it wasn’t just one cupcake.

    Keep in mind that kids are able to buy chips, honeybuns, slushies, cookies and the like in the cafeteria, AND THEY DO. So the two giant cupcakes per kid brought in by parents (from a commercial bakery, so full of trans fats) are a regular occurrence. Come on, free range is one thing, but expecting a six-year old to be so wholesome as to turn down sugar when it’s offered to them by an authority figure on a regular basis is a big much.

    I’ll say it again. This MeMe person may be crazy, but the sugary treats in school are no longer occasional. The treats in school are opposite the free-range ideal–silly hovering parents that insist on bringing them into the classroom to make sure that their child has a personal party and special treatment AT SCHOOL, during the school day.

  59. AB June 18, 2009 at 1:07 am #

    I agree that MeMe Roth has a problem. But it seems to me that she also has a point. There is, objectively, an obesity epidemic going on, and 30 parties a year *in school alone* are just not a good way to have the kids be eating.

    And it’s not just parties. At my son’s old school — which had all the usual parties, as well — parents were responsible fro bringing in snack for the kindergartners and first graders, and many of them brought in a cookie and some form of sugar water.

    My son gets good food at home, and he moves around a lot and is basically all muscle and bone, and so I did not think the quality of the school snacks was a battle worth picking. But if he had had weight problems (as a good number of the kids in his class did) it would have been very difficult to be stricter about his food intake in that sort of environment.

  60. kepiko June 18, 2009 at 1:15 am #

    Wow, gone were the days when you could enjoy a cupcake at school.

    When I was younger, our cafeterias sold sugary stuff. They’ve been selling sugary stuff even when my grandmother was studying! I think sugary food can actually be used fruitfully like rewards and that’s not necessarily INDULGENT parenting. Parents are going to give the lunch money anyway. If they taught their children well, selling sugary food and junk stuff at school wouldn’t even matter.

    It may even be character-building. After they graduate from school darn you’re going to face even more bad stuff sold. Over-sheltered kids tend to be the ones who go wild first.

  61. Nicola June 18, 2009 at 2:02 am #


    What a sad day when we void the world of birthday cakes and cupcakes and cookies and anything “super” sweet to celebrate a special occasion, and say that kids wanting to celebrate with their friends and classmates instead of their parents (much as we do with, say, co-workers when celebrating a promotion or something else good that happens at work with the same treats and pot-lucks), is somehow bad… that’s a shame.

    If cupcakes and sweets are bad and outside the scope of free-range philosophy because they’re harmful to health – well – we should go ahead and ban football and soccer in school (like the school in one of Lenore’s other posts) because they can cause brain damage with one good hit. We should go ahead and not let kids walk to school because there’s a danger that our kids just might get snatched off the street.

    I think my child is in far more danger outside by themselves than eating a cupcake or two – and I’m not about to forbid them either one.

    Yes, junk food is at an all time high. Obesity is at an all time high. The place to start fighting it is NOT at school, but at home!!!!! When people realize that, the epidemic will begin to resolve itself!

    As far as a kid not being able to turn down treats, it’s all in what you teach your child! My daughter, 8, and the family went to Ben & Jerry’s (because we do believe in celebrating things with treats) and she had already had a cupcake earlier that day. My daughter, without prompting from ANYONE else says, “I think I’m only going to have half of this, since I’ve already had a lot of sugar today.” We said “Ok,” and she threw half her scoop of ice cream away. It’s what you teach.

    I was overweight myself and until I finally started reading about nutrition and going to the gym, I wasn’t paying much attention to what I put in my body and pretty much decided it was our society’s fault for making fast food/junk food ok… when I realized I had a choice as to what I wanted to eat, that I could teach portion control and food choices to my children from the time they were toddlers, and that my whole family could learn better habits with not only our food but getting out and doing exercise (we hike and walk mostly), we were better off for it and free of the victim mentality! I pack my kids healthy lunches because I know most of what they feed kids in school is junk (constant influx of tacos and pizza with little fruits and veg). Sometimes I find out they traded an apple for a cookie… I feel happy knowing some other kid was starved enough for good food that they gave my kid junk! At least some other child was trying – much like my daughter and her ice cream – so don’t discount your kids ability to know what is good.

    It starts at home… a cupcake at school is not the enemy, the mentality we teach our children at home is! I’m not trying to praise myself here and say I’m some super mom, I really hope it doesn’t come off that way, I’m just trying to say that if people choose to be responsible for themselves, it does get easier to make better choices.

  62. amotherinvegas June 18, 2009 at 4:54 am #

    I ate plenty of treats in my day while at school for birthdays and valentines day, christmas, st patricks day, etc and have managed not to become an overweight adult with 100 cavities. What’s the big deal? Kids are prone to get fat under two circumstances – 1) constant consumption on a regular basis – which I don’t think this falls under “constant” and 2) complete withdrawal which then creates the forbidden fruit syndrome. When it’s linked to a special occasion, who cares. This lady needs to get a life. How about fighting for more funding for books? Afterschool programs? A mother was trying to do something nice for her child by including the other kids in the celebration and offering them treats, maybe next time she should exclude the kids with psycho parents and they can sit in a corner with a carrot. The mama can be happy. I have a 4 year old daughter who is not used to eating sweets since they’re only for special occasions, when the rare cupcake comes along, she usually doesn’t even finish it because it’s too sweet. Raise them right and you don’t have to worry so much.

  63. Krystina June 18, 2009 at 4:57 am #

    My goodness. Well, at least we know she’s only trying to protect her child. Sometimes I wish my mother had raised me on leaves and vinegar and mulit-vitamins. I’d not only be amazingly healthy, but I wouldn’t care about scarfing down a whole plate of cookies.
    I think schools should probably get more personal with parents. Then the schools can have a whole list of people who can’t eat certain things.

  64. kourtnie June 18, 2009 at 4:57 am #

    Personally, I think if the kid didn’t his cupcakes out of his system, there would be bad news when he escaped home and got to eat all the cupcakes he wanted.

    My college 15 was explosive because of this kind of mother-mentality.

  65. mochamama2 June 18, 2009 at 5:02 am #

    True, this mother has gone to the extreme. Best to stay centered, and get your message out there without making people hate you. You can’t educate people by setting up such a strong, emotionally charged environment. Take one small step at a time, woman!

  66. teacher June 18, 2009 at 5:59 am #

    I think part of this discussion is the fact that everyone is viewing the problem (or lack thereof) through the lens of their own experiences. Schools vary vastly in their approaches to food and nutrition. I have worked in schools that serve amazing meals with fresh local produce and whole grain breads baked onsite. I have also worked at schools where “fruit snacks” are actually considered breakfast and mystery meat, uncrustables, and bags of chips are normal lunch offerings. Throw in the snacks which are brought in by students, and the high sugar junk foods are eaten daily….then add the parties and “special” snacks on top of that.

    I think this is an issue that depends greatly upon the school, and sometimes classroom, that each individual family is part of.

  67. highlyirritable June 18, 2009 at 6:14 am #

    Unreal. Anytime we have the resident rabid-anti-sugar-parented kid over, she goes, literally, STRAIGHT for the sugar bowl. And guess what? I LET HER! /evil cackle


  68. Jen June 18, 2009 at 6:58 am #

    Mike: thanks very much for your response and apology. I understand about getting worked up (the cupcake thing gets me, too).

  69. Marvin Merton June 18, 2009 at 8:47 am #

    Hmm. Very entertaining discussion. At the end of the day, yes, moderation is key, as has been noted repeatedly. It is interesting to note the amazing divergence among pre-schools. Some offer nothing but organic, whole grains, fruit and veggies. Others sugar/HFCS the kids to no end on a daily basis. And others find a middle road. If only the middle road could be found by more of us!

    Funny thing, I remember that, at home, we were allowed to have some ice cream or a couple of cookies after dinner on most nights. Sometimes there were no treats in the house, and that was just that. This seemed reasonable, and I am able to enjoy treats in moderation to this day. On the other hand, friends who lived in houses where treats were restricted or a near constant seem to struggle to moderate themselves as adults.

    On the other hand, I had a good friend who came from a Mormon family. He was not allowed to have caffeine. He always sucked down all the Mountain Dew in our fridge, when he came over. Needless to say, after being accused of going on “one too many” caffeine binges, I made sure that we played at his house or the park from that day forward.

    Despite that, soda was not moderately consumed in my parents’ home. I barely drink the stuff today, and I know I will have a hard time allowing my kid to drink it, as well.

  70. kidsavage June 18, 2009 at 10:43 am #

    wow sol old fasion . this is over exaggerrated. i graduated in o7 and growin up yea we got candy on valentines day but thats it. if you pack your own lunch you eat what you want she should just worry about her child only if her kids lazy then yea they shouldnt eat cup cakes. besides you only get candy on valentines day last time i checked and u only got stickerrs for good grades nothins changed stuff like this only happen in elementary school. in middle and high school it ends and its just work and no more fun no more treats and games and recess just work work work lunch and more work. let them kids live. cuz the fun stops after you leave 5th grade. wow what a whole bunch of nothin to worry bout. they do get recess and have rec sports to be put in if you want them to be fit.

  71. Jah June 18, 2009 at 11:10 am #

    i think she over reacted.. but i noticed a lot of people in the states are more aware of their diet.. it is good to stay healthy but not to the extent where it becomes too narrow minded.. i believe in good food.. not only nutrition wise but also taste wise.. and i believe that everybody should get to eat sweets and treats but in moderation. i could never do that to myself or my family.. deprive them of a little joy in life.. kids will see their friends eat it and will want some. they might end up binging behind their parents back which is worse.

  72. Virginia June 18, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    I guess you haven’t heard of MeMe Roth before… she’s a total nut case who, through sheer gall and loudness, has managed to establish herself as an “obesity expert” in the media. What she really is is fat- and food-phobic. This profile in the Guardian:

    explains her pretty well. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, skip to the end, where she admits that although it’s 3:30 p.m., she hasn’t eaten yet that day because she hasn’t had time to go for a run yet.

  73. K June 18, 2009 at 10:52 pm #

    Our daycare now has explicit policy that no parent can bring any food items to the school that are HOME MADE.

    Heaven forbid little Johny might encounter something from a home kitchen, because we know that food poisoning or peanut contamination could NEVER happen in a professional kitchen in processed food.


  74. mochamama2 June 21, 2009 at 12:56 am #

    I’m blown away by the “nothing homemade” rule. How backwards is their thinking?

    I find it sad that at almost every kids’ party we attend there’s a child who brings her own “cake” from home because of allergies. There are natural ways to eliminate allergies (I know, that’s radical thinking) and it makes me sad that kids have to suffer from adult lack of information.

  75. Shannon June 21, 2009 at 2:51 am #

    From the comments above, this narcissist has some sort of eating disorder, and probably everyone should do exactly the opposite of whatever it is she advises. What a self-destructive person. I wonder if New York law would permit her husband to commit her involuntarily to some sort of treatment facility before she ruins her kids’ lives and the lives of all the teachers, administrators, and kids at PS 9. I doubt her crusade against baby fat is going to end at birthday cupcakes.

    Anyway, the rise in childhood obesity has absolutely nothing to do with treats in school. The rise in childhood obesity has everything to do with kids coming home and parking themselves in front of the Playstation because Mommy is too afraid of the imaginary sexual predator down the street to let them go outside and run around a little before dinner. My dad’s Eastern European family actually ate lard sandwiches for lunch, but they lived on a farm and did hard labor all day long, after which the kids would go outside and play a little more. None of them were obese. I’m guessing that MeMe here–as a New York Mommy par excellence–may run herself, but enrolls her kids in so many lessons and tutoring sessions that they don’t have the time to get normal kid exercise. Perhaps she makes them run on treadmills at the gym, which seems like the best and fastest way to inculcate a disgust for exercise and, consequentially, an obsession with every little thing that goes in their mouths.

    At first I felt annoyed with her, but now I just feel bad for her. It really would be better for some people if they’d never been born. One gets the sense that life is painful for this poor creature.

  76. ebohlman June 21, 2009 at 8:05 pm #

    Shannon: I think MeMe’s problem is really that she’s pathologically afraid of aging, and thinks she can prevent it.

    mochamama2: The main reason that “natural” treatments for allergies (I presume you’re talking about NAET or the like) have so many satisfied customers is that most people who think they have food allergies actually don’t. The human brain has an ancient defense mechanism against consumption of poisonous plants or rotting meat that makes us associate any unpleasant feelings we experience after eating something, particularly something unfamiliar, with the food. Once that happens, if you eat the food again the simple power of suggestion will cause you to feel bad. Patients getting chemotherapy are advised not to eat anything they particularly like for several days before treatment, because they’ll develop a conditioned aversion to it and eating it subsequently will cause them to experience some of the same symptoms caused by the chemo.

    Consequently, a lot of people believe they have food allergies because they once ate something and then, by coincidence, came down with an infection or had some other reason for feeling lousy. If someone with good sales skills (i.e. the ability to make what’s perceived as a very warm and caring human connection with you, unlike the curt manner of a doctor with an HMO-driven patient quota) performs actions that they tell you will eliminate your “allergy,” that same power of suggestion will break the conditioned aversion.

    These “treatments” have not been formally tested against properly diagnosed food allergies. It would be extremely dangerous to consume a food to which you’ve been diagnosed with a life-threatening allergy after such a “treatment” unless you can obtain conventional medical evidence (not other people’s testimonials) that the allergy is no longer present. And no, I don’t derive any employment or investment income from any pharmaceutical manufacturer.

    The conditioned-response phenomenon explains why the number of people who think they have food allergies has increased; they’re simply reacting to the increased publicity involving genuine food allergies.

  77. Indy June 23, 2009 at 2:38 am #

    Let me start by saying that I am a mother of 4 and all 4 of my kids attend school. My oldest son 13 really never has any parties at school. The only thing that they do is each quarter if the child has made honor roll, those chosen kids have a luncheon outside. They usually do get pizza or some kind of treat. My daughter who is 10 rarely has any parties. They do have Holiday parties in which the parents are advised of in time. If a parent wishes to contribut they can.

    Now, my 6yr old has a bit more parties since some birthdays were celebrated. Again parents are always advised beforehand. Even though they do have more parties than usaul they are also very active in school. My sons teacher is very big on keeping the kids active outside the class as well as inside. She does all kinds of activities to make sure they are always burning energy.

    My youngest daughter who is 5 also has lots more parties than usual. Again we are always advised beforehand. It is never a surprise that they will be having party. Wether the party is for birthday or Holiday the parent is always aware. Again, my daughter is also very active her day is packed with a lot of activities.

    As a mother of 4 even though I don’t have all the time in the world I basically do cook dinner everyday. They basically get home cooked meals daily. I really try to make meals as healthy as possible. Now, that doesn’t mean that I am not going to let them eat the occasional cupacke. They are kids and if my child goes to a birthday party I really don’t see the harm in some candy and cake. If a child is overweight it sure isn’t from just one cupacke. It’s from eating unhealthy all the time!

    Another thing is that it’s up to you as a parent to advise the school, teacther, etc of any allergies your child may have. Most schools and daycares ask for that information and if you provide them with it than there really shouldn’t be a problem. You can always pack your childs lunch if you don’t like what they serve in that school. If you don’t feel that your child has to participate in such events than tell the teacher in the begining of the year. Talk to your teachers they do have your child for a good part of the day. I always meet with my childrens teachers in the begining of the year. Only one of my kids has allergies and the school is aware and it has never been an issue.

    Another thing is that sometimes we try to implement our beleiefs and upbringing on others. I really don’t agree with that at all. If a person chooses not to eat this or the other wether for personal or religious reasons we should respect that. I’m not sure when people having different opinions became an issue? Everyone just gets in an uproar if a person does something that we may not agree with. SInce when do we all have to think and act the same? I thought that we were all allowed or own opimnions. This woman seems to think that just because she doesn’t feed her child sugar we should all do the same.

  78. Jen June 25, 2009 at 10:34 pm #

    I’m on our school’s heatlh and wellness committee and I can’t tell you how many meetings we’ve had where the bulk of the discussion was on this very issue. They are considering having only one classroom party a month and lumping all the birthdays together. Major controversy here!

    The sad thing is that kids think they will be more popular when their mom brings in treats. Moms want their kids to be popular. Teachers want to please the parents. and so it goes.

    Don’t even get us started on chocolate milk in the lunchroom,,,,

  79. Emily June 4, 2011 at 1:40 am #

    I know I’m about 2 years late to this conversation! My daughter will start kindergarten in the fall, so I’ve been thinking about and reading up on what we’re going to be facing at school. Ugh. This is frustrating. I often wonder what these kids with ultra strict dietary rules are going to do when they have some freedom… We weren’t allowed sugary cereals and when I went to college I enjoyed Lucky Charms almost daily! I’m a firm believer in moderation. My kids love sweets and they get them sometimes, but not tons. And they also enjoy healthy sweets like all kinds of fruits and berries. And we take care of their teeth when they’ve had sweets. So far no cavities. (Oh and this Mom’s Guide is a great resource on caring for kids’ teeth.)


  1. Cupcakes for Thursday « Obi’s Sister - June 18, 2009

    […] to rise above that sort of stuff), self-appointed culinary police at Public School 9 in NYC (h/t Free-Range Kids). Ms. Roth has gone ballistic on her kids school, yet again, for serving cupcakes, etc. for special […]

  2. Top Posts « - June 19, 2009

    […] Mom Threatens School For Serving Her Kid A Cupcake Here’s a wild New York Times piece about a mom who is fighting mad about  her kid’s school sometimes  […] […]