Should Schools Ban Treats?

I’ve been an elementary school teacher for 10 years. In elementary school we celebrate a lot: birthdays, holidays, special days, milestones, victories. Nearly every week someone is bringing in treats to help us celebrate.

treats to celebrate at school

Treats aren’t exclusive to celebrations. Kids love candy. Candy is cheap. For years I’ve given out candy as a reward for various good deeds and accomplishments. Yes I give out stamps and stickers but stickers get smiles – gummy worms get shouts of gratitude.

salty and fatty foods are treats too

Not all treats are sweets. Sometimes we celebrate with pizza, burgers, hot dogs, potato chips, or nachos. These foods are laden with excess fat, salt, and processed carbs. In health class I warn of the dangers of junk food but on celebration days these foods are the feature items on the menu. It’s a mixed message.

Part of me wants to be bold and declare my classroom a healthy space, free of all unhealthy food. Part of me thinks banning treats would be sucking the fun out of school. Kids get so many treats in their everyday lives, do I really need to be including them in their school lives?

Do I go the Goldilocks route and choose moderation to decide the amount of treats that is just right? Do I ban treats altogether in favor of healthy alternatives? Do you even need treats to celebrate?

What do you think? Should junk food and treats be banned from schools?


Marshmallow Cupcakes: Photo credit: Mrs Magic / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Bowl of Cheese Twists:  Photo credit: Nomadic Lass / Foter / CC BY-SA


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  1. David Stanley says:

    As a teacher, I would hate being made into the food cop. I do enough policing as it is (which I knew going in and handle appropriately) but making me the food police because parents haven’t been able or willing to teach their children sensible dietary habits is a step too far. I would much rather have the parents (i.e. School Board) set policy and then we all enforce the same rules.

This is what I think...