This teacher shamed a mom for packing a slice of chocolate cake with her child’s lunch

Today in controversial parenting news: A mom sent her kindergartener to school with a slice of chocolate cake for dessert, and the teacher sent home a note shaming the child’s mother and suggesting — strongly — that she “choose healthier options.” Unsurprisingly, (internet) chaos has ensued!

A friend of the mom, Canberra, Australia-based writer and advocate for women and girls Melinda Tankard Reist, posted the teacher’s note on Facebook where it has since gone viral, racking up more than 1,000 reactions.

"My friend (mother of 8 healthy children, what follows relating to no. 7) received this today from her 3 year old's kindy," Reist wrote. "I told her to put in two slices tomorrow and tell them to get lost."

The “Red Food Category” is part of a set of school nutrition guidelines published in Australia recommending items kids should and shouldn’t eat (it includes things like soda, deep-friend foods, and juice drinks with less than 99% fruit/vegetable juice). And while we’re all for healthier eating and good-quality school lunches, shaming a parent for sending their child to school with a treat seems excessive.

On Facebook, parents roundly criticized the kindergarten teacher, saying the note was over the line.

“Mothers have enough to deal with, without the embarrassment of a note being sent home like they have just ruined their child’s life. Please pick up the phone and talk to the parent or speak to them when you drop them off/pick them up,” wrote one commenter, Naz Fazel. “As educators I’d expect more tact. This would cause much more distress and judgement over a slice of cake.”

"I was on the receiving end of one of these notes," wrote mom Kylie Shea. "The item in question was a gluten-free, dairy-free, refined-sugar-free, no-preservative, home-made healthy item for my GF, DF, no salicylate, no preservative, no coloring, food-intolerant child who can have nuts and eggs but couldn't take them to school. Not only was he devastated he missed out on it, but hungry too as I'd added protein powder to help keep his belly full. I don't think this issue is black and white. And I don't think teachers can know the ingredients if it isn't in the packet so how can they ban it?"

Some parents did come to the defense of the teacher, noting that teaching healthy eating habits is an important part of a child’s education, and saying that “going public” by shaming the teacher in return is probably not the best tactic.

“I’d be happy for my child to go to a kindy like this,” wrote Adrian Ruzsicska. “If [the cake] was such a special exception, I’d politely share the details with the school and leave it at that. Generally, I’d appreciate the good intent at guiding children toward the healthier alternative.”

We can definitely see why healthy eating guidelines — like Michelle Obama’s school lunch program — are important for proper development, but moms already deal with so much shame and blame, this just seems a bit much, in our opinion.

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