Manitoba mother threatened with fine for excluding Ritz crackers from kids’ daycare lunch

Shereen Dindar
·Contributing Writer

A Manitoba mother is speaking out against a bizarre daycare policy that caused her to receive a $10 fine for not including Ritz crackers in her kids' lunches.

On the day the fine was administered, Kristen Bartkiw of Rossburn, Man. sent her two kids to school with a lunch of homemade roast beef, potatoes, carrots, an orange and milk. But according to The Little Cub's Den daycare, her lunches lacked a grain and therefore violated the province's school lunch policy.

To add a grain to the childrens' lunches, the daycare workers provided Bartkiw's kids with Ritz crackers.

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“They have certain legislation that they have in place where you have to follow these food groups, but it doesn’t matter how processed the foods are or if they’re junk food… so Ritz crackers count as a grain,” Bartkiw explains to Metro News.

The policy is intended to encourage parents to send their kids to school with a healthy, well-balanced lunch in accordance with Canada's Food Guide. But as Bartkiw says, they don't take into account the kinds of foods that qualify as "nutritious."

"You could send microwave Kraft Dinner everyday and that would count as a grain under the guide,” she tells Metro News. “I would encourage parents to not just blindly follow the Canada Food Guide, but really think about eating more real food and not packaged food.”

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While the incident happened last year, 33-year-old Bartkiw just recently relayed her story to Weighty Matters, a blog dedicated to obesity-related topics, and it has since garnered worldwide attention. She says she was on the daycare's board when she received the fine last December, and after addressing the issue with daycare officials, the fine was dropped.

Since the incident, Bartkiw tells Weight Matters that the school switched to providing hot lunches to kids this past September to avoid problems with parents.

What are your thoughts on the province's lunch policy? Tell us in the comments below.