Home » ExchangeEveryDay » Snack Shaming?

ExchangeEveryDay Past Issues

<< Previous Issue | View Past Issues | | Next Issue >> ExchangeEveryDay
Snack Shaming?
May 16, 2023
Learning to eat well and develop a relationship with food is about much more than food.
-Carol Garboden Murray, Illuminating Care

In a recently viral post shared by USA Today, a parent reported their child was ‘snack shamed’ for bringing a can of Pringles potato chips for snack, which, according to the school violated their “healthy snacks” policy. The empty Pringles container was sent home with a message written in marker, ‘Please help us make healthy choices at school!’ The parent commented, ‘They snack-shamed my 3-year-old, (and) they snack-shamed me by writing that passive-aggressively on his trash.’

More relevant than taking sides or the hype of a viral video are the issues of what constitutes healthy snacks, barriers to providing healthy snacks, the intricacies of communicating with families, and perhaps most important of all, the intentional and unintentional messages we send to children about food.

In the article, Jennifer Anderson, registered dietician and founder of Kids Eat in Color, highlights how confusing messages about bad foods may be:

‘They may want to eat the food more, they may become afraid of it, and they may think they are bad if they eat a bad food... Is an apple good if my friend has an allergy to it? Is cake bad when it tastes so good? And if it's bad, why do parents give it to their children on their birthdays?

Some questions to reflect on include: Do snack and meal policies consider nutritional needs as well as the time and costs for families to meet those needs? How clearly are snack policies communicated to families? How much flexibility is there? What is the tone of the messages? And how do our daily meal and snack practices help children develop a healthy relationship with food?


Delivered five days a week containing news, success stories, solutions, trend reports, and much more.

What is ExchangeEveryDay?

ExchangeEveryDay is the official electronic newsletter for Exchange Press. It is delivered five days a week containing news stories, success stories, solutions, trend reports, and much more.

Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Kirsten Haugen · May 16, 2023
Eugene, OR, United States

Absolutely, Pat! That's part of what makes this so difficult, right? I'm curious as to how programs solve this with so many competing needs - nutrition, compliance, accommodating families, helping children develop positive relationships with healthy eating, etc... Definitely a fine line.

Pat Reinhardt · May 16, 2023
Early childhood education consultant
Newtown, CT, United States

I think it is important to consider that in some states, such as CT, a licensed program may have to comply with regulations that are aligned with USDA food guidelines. A snack is defined as nutritious, containing 2 food groups, controlled for fat, sugar, and salt content. This applies even with food brought from home. Program staff and administrators walk a fine line here.

Post a Comment

Have an account? to submit your comment.


Your e-mail address will not be visible to other website visitors.

Check the box below, to help verify that you are not a bot. Doing so helps prevent automated programs from abusing this form.

Disclaimer: Exchange reserves the right to remove any comments at its discretion or reprint posted comments in other Exchange materials.