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!)

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

themrs June 21, 2009 at 3:11 pm

LOL, i've pondered the same things. i'm fortunate that my son's kindergarten teacher this year tried really hard to monitor the sugar intake. my son is extremely sensitive to sugar and it's not good for anyone who has to be around him when he has it. i do think, as a whole, our school systems are promoting an obesity problem. as phys ed is being phased out in schools across america due to budget constraints, it becomes even more important for us as parents to make sure our kids are getting physical activity at home. but that being said, our kids eat two of their three meals at home. so if there is a weight issue, we can hardly blame it on the one meal they partake at school. i guess i have more of an issue with parents who are more interested in blaming someone else than taking responsibility for their own children's health.


Carrie June 23, 2009 at 2:53 pm

I read the article, Imagine those poors kids, putting their treats in the containers as contraband. My kids eat very well, they can talk more conscisely than I can about nutrition and fitness. I have a daughter whose favorite snack is spinach, by her choice. But she also enjoys a cool, drippy popsicle on a hot summer day. I am all for teaching kids proper nutritional habits, but the mother's approach bothers me. How would you like to be her kid? I teach and parent my kids, popsicles and all, from my home. She should have the decency and respect for others to do the same.


Marketing Mama June 23, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Ok – I spent way too much time following the links and learning about this lady. She's an extremist bitch and proud of it – but I wonder how well her kids are adjusting. Can't be easy when all the teachers hate your Mom and you can't eat the treats.

That said, I'm a bit sensitive to this topic these days. One because I'm worried my kids will be fat and I'd like to prevent that. While my husband and I aren't obese, we are packing quite a few extra pounds and don't want our kids to as well.

Second, my youngest has food allergies. She's not in school yet – but I can guarantee you that she won't be able to eat 85% or more of the treats kids bring in to share. She'll have to have her own stash.

I've heard that the food allergy moms and the 'fight against obesity' moms are teaming up to ban birthday party treats in the classrooms. Two serious issues that are majorly on the rise in our society. Makes sense they would partner together. I just hope they all have it figured out by 2012 when my daughter starts Kindergarten.


Heather June 24, 2009 at 12:41 pm

I was a gestational diabetic who turned type 2 diabetic after giving birth to my son. Because of this, I'm always cautious of what he eats since diabetes runs in the family; he's fine now but I don't want to help him start digging a hole with bad eating habits.

So I just talk to his pre-school teachers and ask them to limit the suckers, candy, etc. and try other rewards such as stickers and stamps. He's 2 and half and doesn't seem to mind just yet, so I'm lucky.

As for his birthday, there are a lot of others in his class that are around his date. He'd had a ton of cookies, brownies, and cupcakes; so I brought little tubs of playdough instead of sweets. It worked out better I think for everyone.


Amy June 24, 2009 at 5:08 pm

I love the Play-Doh idea.


Jessica June 24, 2009 at 8:25 pm

I worry about this too, but I'm not as vocal as I probably should be. My daughter's daycare has a menu that has been "approved by a nutrionist" but I scratch my head when they are serving marshmellow cereal and chocolate muffins for breakfast and chips with lunch.

For her birthday I brough fruit snacks. I realize not much better than cupcakes, but it's something. I keep meaning to sit down with the director to discuss the menu but haven't yet.


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