cupcakes will kill you

If you’re a mom in New York City this week, you’ve probably been talking about the New York Times article by Sue Dominus (once a classmate of mine) on MeMe Roth, president of the one-woman organization National Action Against Obesity.

Ms. Roth believes that “obesity is abuse– of our children, and of ourselves,” and that radical action must be taken against it. So when her children, who attend a public school in my neighborhood, are offered a snack time cupcake for someone’s birthday, they are obliged to deposit it in a Tupperware “Junk Food Collector” their mother has designated for such abominations.

This all apparently worked very well, until a hot day a few weeks ago (funny, I don’t remember any hot days in 2009), when MeMe’s daughter’s teacher offered the class frozen juice pops. The daughter tried to deposit it in the Junk Food Collector. Teacher advised against, angry emails were exchanged, and before you know it, MeMe is being ripped a new one in the pages of the Gray Lady. Seriously, read it if you haven’t yet. Ms. Dominus was not writing an op-ed piece, at least ostensibly, but she makes very clear what she thinks of Ms. Roth, and is most entertaining in the process. According to the article, Ms. Roth’s family was already asked to leave one school in the past, due to her psycho harangues on Valentine’s Day Sweet-Tarts and the like, and sounds like PS 9 will be showing them the door next.

MeMe Roth (photo by Andrew Testa)
Here is Ms. Roth. I wouldn’t want to take her on at a PA meeting; she looks like the love child of Anne Coulter and that lady from The Weakest Link.

I do think, though, that she… kind of has… a point? We picked a day to celebrate Fergus’ summer birthday in pre-K last month. I brought in cupcakes for the whole class, which were consumed as morning snack, at 9:45 am. Less than two hours later, they went to the cafeteria for lunch, and since it was “Dessert Day” (Friday), they all received… another cupcake. Then afternoon snack was individual yogurts, with the equivalent of 5 packs of sugar in each container. When I picked Fergus up, the kids were running around the classroom, dazed, muttering to themselves. I didn’t say anything, so as not to be perceived as a wackadoo, but I did wonder if the children could not have had their birthday celebration for Fergus with their lunchtime cupcakes, or at least, have had the lunchtime cupcakes removed from their trays since they had all HAD cupcakes that day already. It wasn’t worth sending a nasty email over, let alone starting a national organization out of my apartment, but it did seem slightly excessive.

By the way, this is a school that serves only organic, locally farmed produce in its cafeteria, so overall, my kids eat better there than they do at home.

Anyone else seeing an excess of sugar at school? Have you ever said anything about it?

(PS: If you can’t get enough of Ms. Roth, check out this article in the London Guardian last month. She doesn’t eat breakfast! Or lunch!)