Southern Indiana mom says teacher singled out her son for having an unhealthy snack

Should a teacher be able to keep a child from eating a snack because it’s not healthy enough? That’s what one Southern Indiana parent said happened to her son.
Published: Oct. 27, 2023 at 11:28 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It’s one snack time that’s hard to swallow for one parent.

Should a teacher be able to keep a child from eating a snack because it’s not healthy enough? That’s what one Southern Indiana parent said happened to her son.

A single mom said her fourth grader wasn’t allowed to eat the snack she sent with him to school, while the rest of his class enjoyed their food.

She said it’s caused her son a lot of embarrassment and anxiety.

She gets a lot of her food from pantries, so she doesn’t always have a huge selection of snacks for her kids.

One day in a rush she sent her son to school with some chips, which has led to the situation that’s left a bad taste in her mouth.

It was a simple trip to the store that revealed a bigger problem for her.

“And I was just casually like, here let’s pick a snack,” she said. “And he started getting stressed out.”

The mother saw something she’d never seen before, her fourth-grade son was looking at the nutrition facts of food.

“As young as he is and trying to understand why he was allowed to eat one snack and not another,” she said.

That’s when he told his mom he wasn’t allowed to eat the chips she packed for him during snack time, all because his teacher didn’t think the snack was healthy enough.

“And I said, did they even offer you a healthier snack? And he goes, ‘No I just didn’t get a snack because I didn’t bring a snack that they would allow him to eat,’” she said.

So as the other kids ate, he had to sit there and watch.

It upset him, which in turn upset her, so she confronted the teacher.

A screenshot the mother sent to WAVE News shows the teacher’s response.

“Ma’am, I am sorry you feel that way. Providing snack time in the classroom is an option. It is not something I have to allow. I chose to allow it because we have a late lunch,” the teacher wrote. “In my beginning of the school year letter, I have suggestions of healthy snack choices and I have the snack rules listed in the letter.”

The letter the teacher references had to be signed by parents and sent back. The section referenced said things like, “Please only send in ONE healthy snack that is easily managed. Prepared fruit and vegetables, fruit snacks, granola bars, and cheese/peanut butter crackers are all great choices. Unhealthy sugary snacks are not good for the school day,” the letter said. “Students will be asked to put those away in their lockers for lunch. Pop Tarts, chips, messy snacks...let’s stay away from that please.”

The letter does mention chips and said that if kids do bring unhealthy snacks, they’ll be asked to put them away for lunch. However, the mom is upset that her son was singled out and no alternative was offered.

“Yes, I was fine with okay I’ll do my best to provide the healthiest snacks I can,” the mother said. “But to take his snack away and not allow him to have a snack while the rest of the class eats is just disgusting.”

Since she gets a lot of her food from pantries, and sometimes she’s in a rush or hasn’t been able to restock her kitchen, which means sometimes her kids go to school with the food she has.

“I do the best I can with what I got available,” she said.

This all happened at Clarksville Community Schools. When we reached out to the district about the situation, they sent a statement that says:

“Clarksville Community Schools works diligently to follow the established federal guidelines for healthy snacks and communicate those guidelines to parents. We believe that no child should go hungry, regardless of circumstance. It is due to our commitment to this belief that we are able to provide every student in our district free breakfast and lunch as well as a free afternoon snack. Every student eats free at Clarksville Coummunity Schools. As part of our ongoing commitment to student wellness, CCSC will continue to work to ensure that all students have a healthy alternative to snacks.”

“It’s not so much you should be providing a snack, it’s just that my child was secluded and singled out and that shouldn’t happen,” the mom said.

Schools have to follow federal nutritional guidelines, meaning they can’t sell or give out certain food.

Parents can send what they want, and teachers can decide if kids get to eat in their classroom. However, in this case, the mom feels her son was shamed in front of his entire class.