Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Do 3 Year Olds Really Need Pizza Day - Part II

Longtime readers of my blog may remember my post regarding my 3 year old school's policy of pizza day.

Once a month the kids get pizza, carrot sticks, pretzels, juice and cookies.

Now as you might imagine, I'm not a particular fan of pizza day for 3 year olds as it really doesn't make much sense to me.

If the argument were made that it's for the kids I'd argue that 3 year olds would never expect a pizza day and therefore not miss it.

If the argument were made that it's for the parents I'd argue that while certainly at times harried, making your kids' lunches is one of the responsibilities of parenthood.

Nutritionally, depending on the type of pizza and other products it would not be difficult for the kids to be getting dramatically more calories and sodium than would be healthy for a single meal (sodium wise depending on the options they might exceed an entire day's recommendation)

My original post detailed my angst in choosing not to write the school.

Well my concern finally got the best of me and I wrote and I'm very pleased to say that the school was quite open to compromise and will be considering the following changes:

1. Asking the pizza place to only put on half the amount of cheese they would normally and to utilize part-skim mozerrella rather than full fat.
2. Making it policy to serve watered down apple juice (remembering that for 3-4 year olds the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a maximum daily juice consumption of half a cup).
3. Losing the pretzels.
4. Keeping the cookies (3 animal crackers per kid - certainly not worth me getting worked up).

The school also asked for help on organizing a talk for parents on what makes up healthy school lunches.

I guess the lesson learned here is that in many cases non-confrontational discussions regarding nutrition and schools may in fact yield fruitful and healthful change, and while I still don't think 3 year olds need pizza day, at least it's become a little healthier at my kids' school.

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  1. Could they subsitute apple slices for the apple jiuce?

    My concern is that we stuff our children with refined carbs because it's easier and less expensive. Pizza, cookies, pretzels and juice seems to be an unbalanced combination.

    It is great that the school is open to parental involvement and support. Confrontation only drives people to their corners and it isn't the most suitable tactic when there are children involved.

  2. Anonymous10:05 am

    Great Post Yoni!

    I'd like to provide a little of my own experience.

    I live in Downtown Ottawa, an my kids are at a local public school. The school provides pizza lunches on Fridays (Pizza Day) This was fine by us as we eat healthy home cooked meals most days and send a healthy lunch on the other days.

    The school's health and environment comittee, setup a Salad Bar day on Wednesday. The uptake was a little slow last year, but this year it has surged. They are serving locally grown organic vegetables and fruit and the peer pressure seems to be encouraging more kids to try foods they would not normally. The vegetables are heirloom varieties and a little odd: purple brocolli, purple, orange and yellow carrots, etc.

    At first the kids enjoyed the novelty factor, but the flavour seems to have won them over. Every week we have roll of the dice on what is delivered. Occasionally, a dip is provided (prepared by the volunteer parents) which is healthy and flavourful. I have heard that there are a few other schools in the region which are providing salad bars in addition to the pizza days.

    I like the idea of reducing the amount of cheese on the pizzas. when we order, we usually ask for 'light on the cheese' as we find the normal amount a little overwhelming.

    great suggestion.

  3. My granddaughter lives in Nova Scotia. Last year her kindergarten class "won" a pizza lunch for their fundraising effort. She eats very nutritious meals most of the time, so this was not a huge deal, and was a very exciting reward for the kids. BUT the school chose to serve Coke to the kids with the pizza!!!!! What a way to compound a problem - WOW!!!! My daughter called the school and asked if they could serve3 juice instead. They did - sort of - they provided Fruitopia, which is also full of sugar .... some days you just can't wim. I'm just glad that my granddaughter's favourite food is salad!!

  4. Good for you for getting to the stage of non-confrontational