Opinion Editorial

No place for banana bread bullies at board

Postmedia Network

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

The report of a Grade 1 boy who wasn't allowed to eat homemade banana bread with his classmates because his teacher allegedly questioned its nutritional value is worrisome.

Everyone appreciates it's important to encourage youngsters to make wise food choices, but schools don't have the right to shame pupils for their parents' selections.

In this case the poor lad, who is autistic, was allegedly told to eat his banana bread in the hallway, while classmates enjoyed their fruits and vegetables in the classroom.

"I send food with him that I know he will eat," says the boy's mother, who Postmedia has chosen not to name. "I don't want people telling me what to feed my child."

And nor should the mother be told what food items can be brought to school. Besides, banana bread, depending on the recipe, can be a nutritious snack.

We're often told teachers have too many tasks to juggle in today's complex classrooms. Apparently, the teacher involved in this incident has time to pass judgment on students' snack choices on top of all their other demands.

The CBE said in a statement that its nutrition regulation applies to food and beverages served or sold by staff or contracted providers.

It does not apply to the lunch or snack items parents send with their child or to school council-sponsored lunch days.

The policy seems clear, but instead of admitting the teacher appears to have made an error, the Calgary Board of Education obscures matters.

"Staff may support students with learning and behaviour related to any activity during the day," reads the statement. "Sometime this occurs as students are having a snack. In these circumstances the actions staff take are not related to a nutritional choice or snack a parent has sent."

The school district is speaking out of both sides of its mouth.

Thankfully, the education minister gets it: "While it is important to ensure our students learn about healthy meal and snack choices, Alberta Education aims to ensure all students are safe, welcome and cared for while at school," said David Eggen.

Other parents have shared similar accounts of students being made to feel awkward because of what's in their lunch box.

The CBE should be protecting parents and their children from heavy-handed employees accused of shaming the youngsters they're paid to care for and educate.

In today's more enlightened times, the CBE needs to do better.