Dad Blasts School for Chastising Him Over Daughter’s Chocolate Bar Lunch

Sure, we don’t want students eating unhealthy meals, but should teachers be correcting parents over what they choose to feed their kids?

(Photo: Getty Images)

Jan 23, 2015· 2 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

Confession time: This morning I let my 11-year-old son take a bottle of apple juice, two bags of potato chips, and a snack pack of chocolate-chip cookies to school for lunch. He doesn’t eat like that every day, but we woke up late and I told him to grab whatever he wanted out of the kitchen, so he really went for the junk food. It turns out that if he were a student in Kirksville, Missouri, I might be the recipient of a note from a teacher chastising me for putting him on the path to childhood obesity.

That’s the situation Justin and Kylene Puckett found themselves in this week after a substitute teacher at their daughter Alia’s school sent home a letter taking them to task over the contents of her lunch.

(Photo: Facebook)

“Dr. and Mrs. Puckett, The cafeteria reported to me that Alia’s lunch today included four chocolate bars, a bag of marshmallows, Ritz crackers and a pickle. Please see that she packs a proper lunch tomorrow,” read the missive. The letter, which Justin Puckett posted on his Facebook page, had a line requiring it to be returned with a parent signature. The Pucketts’ response: “Request declined.”

According to Puckett, that’s not what his daughter took to school in her lunchbox.

“Big brother..........At least get your facts straight before intruding. I was aware of her lunch contents. Four pieces of ham, low fat string cheese, pickles, 4 marshmallows, and a small piece of dark chocolate (she did have 2 extra pieces, one for her brother and another for a friend who we know well and her parents are ok with this). There were no crackers,” wrote the dad on his Facebook page. “Sure, I’d liked her to pack a few more veggies and maybe a piece of fruit, but we compromise on pickles occasionally.”

It sure sounds like Alia’s lunch was healthier than my son’s meal—seriously, that cookie and chip fiasco could be a case study for why a recent report said that school lunches are healthier than what’s being brought from home. Although Puckett told local station KTVO that the teacher probably meant well, he believes schools shouldn’t be policing what parents choose to feed their kids.

“The issue isn’t what happened at the primary school and with my daughter, because she is very independent and going to be completely unaffected by this. But what does bother me is that it just seems that we are constantly being inundated with the inability to be parents of our children,” Puckett told the station.

He asked people to weigh in on the controversy on his public Facebook page, and most of the comments were supportive of his outrage.

“Tell the food police that you want to fatten her up so you can put her on optifast as an experiment. Or that sugar and sodium are the base of the food pyramid. SARCASM!!! Honestly, tell them to mind their own business, you are the parent!” wrote one commenter, Christina Nevel-McGarvey.

Another commenter, Jennifer Farris Pearse, suggested that Puckett “request to be present in the teacher’s lounge or to sit at the teacher’s table at lunch so that you can assure they are teaching by doing & that they too do have what they consider to be a ‘proper lunch’.”

As for the the school, it has issued the parents an apology, as did the Kirksville Schools superintendent.

“We have as educators been directed to provide healthy and nutritious foods for so long that we had an individual take it upon themselves to send a note home to parents,” said superintendent Damon Kizzire in a statement. “This will not happen again, and I am sorry for any inconvenience.”