Coming Home Hungry
Leeza Pearson was having an average day when her daughter came home from preschool very hungry. This shocked Leeza, who sent young Natalee to school with her usual lunch that day. When she looked inside Natalee’s lunch box, she said she found a note that made her quite unhappy.
Colorado Born And Raised
Leeza was born and raised in Aurora, Colorado. Today, Leeza studies political science at Denver’s Metropolitan State University. Leeza enrolled her daughter, Natalee, in Aurora’s Children’s Academy to kick off her preschool education.
Natalee’s Early Start
Growing up in a highly competitive society, an early start in education can mean a lot. It is highly recommended to get your child enrolled in pre-school as soon as possible. They can begin to develop at an earlier age, be less socially awkward and become more successful as an adult.
A Popular Preschool
The Children’s Academy & Childcare Center is a very popular preschool which can accommodate up to 150 young learners at any given time. The school is trusted by community members who want to get their young children ready for elementary school, as Leeza wanted to do with Natalee at the time.
Life Was Good
Things were in order. Leeza was coming closer to getting her degree and her daughter was excelling in preschool. It seemed for once that life provided no reasons to complain. Little did they know, things were about to take a very odd and shameful turn.
The Day That Changed Everything
Leeza was very happy with the preschool for nearly the entire school year, but that would eventually change. No grievances had been made public by Leeza and her husband Nate until that day, but of course, everything went south on that Friday.
The Life Of A Busy Mother
Like many mothers of young children, Natalee said that she was often very busy and did not realize that she didn’t have any fruit or vegetables to put in her daughter’s lunch that day as she packed it. However, the small error would ultimately lead to a much bigger issue.
Sweets In Natalee’s Lunch
Leeza decided that day to include some Oreo cookies in her daughter’s lunch as a treat. She also claims that she added a ham and cheese sandwich and some string cheese to complete the lunch. Again, she claims that she normally included fruits and vegetables but didn’t have any to include that day.
How Bad Are Oreos?
When taking a look at the beloved cookie, you’ll see a lot of bad and no good. Here are the ingrediants. Sugar, Unbleached High oleic canola oil and/or palm oil and/or canola oil, Cocoa, High-fructose, corn syrup, Leavening agent, Cornstarch, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla, Chocolate. Oreos are actually some of the unhealthiest cookies being sold today.
Natalee’s Complaints Of Hunger
Natalee came home from preschool complaining that she was hungry on that Friday. That’s when Leeza looked into her daughter’s lunchbox and said she found a note along with the Oreo cookies, which were still uneaten. When she read the note, Leeza was quite angry.
The Offensive Letter
Leeza would later share the note that she said was in the box. The text read, “Dear Parents, it is very important that all students have a nutritious lunch. This is a public school setting, and all children are required to have a fruit, a vegetable, and a healthy snack from home, along with a milk. If they have potatoes, the child will also need bread to go along with it.”
Sharing The Note Online
Leeza was so furious about the school’s decision to dictate what her daughter could and couldn’t eat that she shared the note online. The note also noted that “Lunchables, chips, fruit snacks and peanut butter are not considered to be a healthy snack.”
When she posted the note and her summary of the day on social media, Leeza was quickly met with support from other parents and general outrage about the situation. “I just got a bunch of outrage from friends I hadn’t heard from in years,” Leeza said later, noting that one of her friends summed up the incident as “ridiculous.”
The Era Of Obesity
The past twenty years have seen a huge rise in obese children. Whereas thirty and forty years ago, a larger person would have stood out and would have been acknowledged, today obesity is the norm and is being treated as such.
Emphasis On Healthy Foods
It’s no secret that there’s an obesity and health problem in America, and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act came about to encourage healthier lunches for kids in schools. Of course, that was about improving school-provided lunches, not dictating what parents could send with their kids to school.
Educating The Masses On Health
Studies have shown that healthy food does help children learn more efficiently. “Students who eat regular, healthy meals are less likely to be tired, are more attentive in class and retain more information,” said NYU Associate Professor of Economics and Education Policy Sean Patrick Corcoran.
What No Parent Wants To Hear
No parent wants to be made an example of and no one wants to be accused of poisoning their child with bad food. The school basically went out of their way to make Leeza feel like a bad mother. One can’t deny that she’d probably spend nights tossing and turning in bed whilst questioning her own parenting methods.
Leeza Felt “Shamed”
Leeza would later tell the media that her biggest problem with the issue was not that the school wanted students to eat healthy foods, but that the school “took it over the top.” She said she felt “shamed” and that it was wrong for the school to say what her daughter could or couldn’t eat.
Overstepping Their Boundaries
Leeza believed that by telling Natalee what she could and couldn’t eat out of her lunch, the school had overstepped its boundaries. “What the school thinks is healthy for her is not what I think is healthy for her,” she said. “She needs to eat what she’s going to eat. That’s between me and her and our doctor – not the school.”
Natalee Showed No Signs Of Obesity
It would be one thing if Leeza’s daughter was 100 pounds and waddling through the class hallways. By all means, at that point show some concern, but she was otherwise a thin and active little girl. This made the accusations all the worse.
Defending Her Decision
Leeza said she was particularly unable to understand the school’s response considering that her daughter is healthy and not overweight. “It’s not like I was offering cookies to the entire class, and it’s not like that was the only thing in her lunch,” Leeza said.
Were They Hypocrites?
To add fuel to the fire, Leeza alleges that the school once offered her daughter treats, making their actions hypocritical. “They say I can’t decide what to feed her but then they sometimes feed her junk food,” Leeza said during an interview with ABC News.
Standing Up For Her Rights
After the controversy that ensued, Leeza defended her decision to include Oreo cookies in her daughter’s lunch. “We’re not the parents that send junk food every day,” she said later in an interview. “She has a full, healthy lunch. And this was Friday! Why not give her a special treat?”
School’s Bad Reputation
The accusation is a bit strange, especially seeing as schools aren’t exactly sporting reputations that associate them with healthy food. The meals that kids usually get in school cafeterias are usually full of mystery. The meats will taste rubbery and everything else will commonly share a disgusting texture. Also, candy is too commonly handed out in classic.
Against School Policy
At the time, Brenda Dean worked as the Children’s Academy’s director. She said to the media that she was looking into the note, but that the note was not in accordance with school policy and should not have been sent home to a parent in such a manner.
If you are picturing this little girl getting her lunch ripped from her grasp and tossed in the trash, you might be getting this story all wrong. Nobody exactly took the girls lunch and left to starve for the rest of the school. As the plot thickened, the whole truth came out.
The Plot Thickens
Aurora Public Schools Chief Communications Officer Patti Moon said that although the school did prefer to keep parents informed about healthy choices, such actions should not be “punitive.” She did, however, say that Natalee had been given the choice to have another snack and therefore did not have to go home hungry.
That means that Natalee took a stubborn stance and refused to eat the meal that was further provided for her. That said, amidst over a hundred children eating she sat there and wouldn’t eat anything. She decided that going through the day hungry was better than giving them the satisfaction.
Where Do Schools Stand?
When it comes to the feud between Leeza and the preschool that her daughter attended, it seems the drama was dropped when Natalee started elementary school. One has to wonder what schools and parents learned from the situation.
In the end, the public school system certainly reevaluated its stance and definitely won’t be sending any more notes home to parents. Meanwhile, Natalee moved on to elementary school and hasn’t had any other issues. However, the situation definitely shined a light on what role, if any, public schools should have in what kids can and can’t eat for lunch.