This is one of those stories you skim, and even at first glance find yourself asking, “What the . . . ?”
Then, you read it more closely and you finish that phrase in all its four-letter glory.
Here the summary of what is an unbelievably dumb, misguided, ignorant and ridiculously nonsensical decision regarding child nutrition and the consumption of meat.
About the only redeeming aspect of the story is that it took place in Canada.
It seems that Kristen Bartkiw, a mom in Rossburn, Manitoba, a town of 550 brave souls, packed her kids’ lunch for their stay at a daycare center with roast beef, potatoes and carrots, plus a cup of milk and an orange for dessert.
Nicely balanced, full of healthy protein, and both fruit and vegetables, right?
According to a story in The National Post newspaper, her two children Logan and Natalie came home with what was called “the lunch police equivalent of a speeding ticket: A Lunchbox Supplement Note,” The Post reported. The noted reprimanded Ms. Bartkiw for failing to include a grain serving in the lunches.
But here’s the best part: According to the newspaper account, Bartkiw was charged $10—$5 for each child—because the daycare had to feed her kids Ritz crackers to make up for the “oversight.”
“It was frustrating,” Bartkiw told the newspaper. “I actually phoned the daycare and asked, ‘Really? Am I actually getting charged for this?’ ”
The answer was: Yes—at least initially, because according to Canada’s latest guidelines for children’s lunches, potatoes do not qualify as a grain, although Ritz crackers apparently do.
Schools losing focus
Leaving aside the $5-a-serving outrage, the problem here is one that is hardly confined to Canada. As schools and daycare centers have increasingly focused on health and nutrition, parents sometimes discover that their personal ideas of “good nutrition” clash with government regulations.
The trend is consistent with a movement toward “big brothering lunches,” Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of food distribution and policy at Ontario’s University of Guelph’s College of Management and Economics, told The Post. “Schools have become better risk mitigators [noting peanut allergies as an example], but as a result, the mandate has expanded,” he said. “We’re looking at health, we’re looking at safety, quality of life, sustainability. It’s going beyond trying to make sure people survive lunch hour.”