Cupcake Clash!

cupcakeLast week, USA Today ran a story about the growing incidence of Type 2 diabetes among children. While discussing the situation of the student — a second grader — whose personal story is featured, the article noted the difficulty of “not eating a cupcake when everyone else is having one.”


With more overweight elementary school students than ever before, an old debate is getting renewed attention: Should cupcakes be allowed in school? As schools across the country develop healthier lunch programs and restrict the sale and serving of junk food, many parents maintain that treats such as cupcakes — brought from home and served in the classroom to celebrate a birthday or another special occasion — should be exempt from the rules. Others say that junk food is junk food, and encouraging students to bring in healthier treats is the best policy. recently featured this question, along with the general topic of junk food in school, as a topic on its online forum. The post includes links to several stories about a New York City mother who is campaigning against treats in school — including an article earlier this month in The New York Times, which seems to have generated a largely negative reaction.

What is your view on cupcakes in the classroom? Leave a comment below!

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  • Gail P

    As a kindergarten teacher and as a person with T2 diabetes, I can see all sides of the discussion. I know that a T1 or T2 diabetic can have a cupcake (getting rid of some frosting will make the day easier) as long as the medication and or other eating that day is balanced to accommodate it. Of the 17 children in my class, only about 10 brought in the traditional birthday treat. The other parents didn’t send anything in. That’s okay too. What I have a problem with is the foods that are offered through the school cafeteria and brought in from home for meals and snacks. Of what real nutritional value are jello, sugar cookies, cake, popsicles, or ice cream treats as part of the school day? These are offered to children as “snacks” and dessert. There are far too many healthy things that can and should be prepared in a school cafeteria to go down the road of simply giving treats to kids for smiles and ooohs. So, my suggestion to those who want to take on the battle of school nutrition, create a school-wide policy that prohibits junk food, snacks, and desserts, either offered by school or sent in from home. Then we will get into a battle over parents rights. I don’t want to look at another snack from home that is a bag of potato chips, a small boston creme pie, a bag of oreos, or brownies. Stop trying to simply be a kid pleaser and feed the children what they need for healthy bodies and good eating habits.
    Save the snacks for important things like birthday snacks and special events at home or school.

  • Denise P

    Well said, Gail P!! As a former school nurse, I totally agree with you. We need to help our children feel good about a job well done, putting forth their best effort, extending a helping hand, being polite and respectful, etc. rather than from what they consider “treats”. Goodness, we have sweet treats so often there’s really no “treat” to it. Many folks expect them several times throughout the day. I was told by a nutritionist that as part of the guidelines of the Food Guide Pyramid, eating “sparingly” means a sweet treat about every 3 days!!! When we turn to food for a “feel good” moment, we can be setting ourselves up for a lifetime of weight problems because let’s face it, sometimes life events don’t make us feel good for extended periods of time. Food should be enjoyable and is an important part of all cultures and necessary for life but there are plenty of good tasting foods that are also healthy. It’s just that the unhealthy ones are so easily accessed.
    Tennessee primary schools are mandated to have healthy food guidelines and are on the right track. But they have a way to go to supporting the nutrition guidelines. Let’s just not stop here but keep moving toward building healthy kids.

  • Sylvia C.

    Celebrate birthdays once a month for all students with a birthday in that month. The rest of the time try for healthier snacks.

  • Jerry Munnelly

    I think the mother in the Times article is 1000% right, and shame on the school for giving her grief for wanting to have no junk food given to her children. If enough parents did this we would not have the diabetes epicdemic in children that we have today. Next they will say that it is alright to serve big macs on the school lunch programs.

  • Kerri Bockelman

    As a preschool teacher these last 29 years, when a batch of cupcakes is brought into the classroom by the birthday girl or boy, it just makes our morning so special! If this happened every day it definitely would be unhealthy. But done occassionally, it is an inexpensive way for the student’s parents to do something special for their child. A low sugar recipe could be presented to parents right from the beginning of the year. A small toy or plastic decoration on the top, rather than frosting would be just as appealing to children.