Australian mother's 'lunchbox warning' goes viral

The woman received a warning letter after including a cake slice in her 3-year-old's lunch

Australian mother's 'lunchbox warning' goes viral


A mother-of-eight in Australia who included a homemade chocolate slice in her three-year-old daughter’s lunchbox has received a ‘warning note’ advising her not to do so again.

Writer and commentator Melinda Tankard Reist shared a photo of the note on Facebook, claiming a friend had received it, with the kindergarten staff advising her to re-evaluate what she was adding to her daughter’s lunch and to choose healthier options.

“I told her to put in two slices tomorrow and tell them to get lost,” wrote Tankard Reist, a feminist and anti-abortion campaigner.

The note sent home to the child’s parents, complete with a sad face image, read: “”Your child has ‘chocolate slice’ from the Red Food category today. Please choose healthier options for Kindy.”

[Facebook/Melinda Tankard Reist]

Traffic light guide

In schools across the world, a traffic light system is used to represent the food pyramid, ranking foods and drinks based on their nutritional merit. Green applies to healthy items, while red – including cakes, confectionery, fats and soft drinks – are not recommended.

“My friend felt bad that she has broken the rules,” Tankard Reist told Australian media. “I posted the image because I reacted to it. I support healthy eating, but I’m concerned about where this approach takes us.”

Her Facebook post has since gone viral down under, attracting attention from parents telling stories of children whose food was sent home in lunchboxes uneaten because it violated the school’s policies.

Parents respond

“Organic sugarless zucchini muffins and banana and almond muffins were sent home. Cupcakes were sent home, which had less sugar and calorie content than the approved muesli bar,” Tankard Reist said.

“I would staple this note to the teacher’s forehead. If you want to police what a parent packs in their child’s lunch box, do away with packed lunches altogether and provide food at the centre,” one father wrote.

Another parent said: “Oh, that’s a bit over the top! Clear guidelines about food in a handbook is one thing, this is another. Plus, are we not allowed a little treat for afternoon tea?”

Others argued that the way in which the school contacted the parent was embarrassing and humiliating for an adult, but that the message was important.

“A poor method of communicating their concern to the parents, but the early childhood national quality framework actually states that healthy eating needs to be embedded in their programme. This is a part of the standards for remaining an accredited placement,” one parent wrote.

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