In Manitoba, Canada, school lunches are no laughing matter.
Kristen Bartkiw received a $10 fine after reportedly failing to send her two young children to daycare with "balanced" lunches. The mother, who is now speaking about the incident that occurred last year, told blog Weighty Matters that she provided her children with meat, potatoes, milk, carrots and oranges for lunch.
However, she explained, the daycare center said that based on the Manitoba Government’s Early Learning and Child Care lunch regulations, the children needed a grain in order to have a balanced meal. (The Manitoba lunch regulations require all daycare centers to ensure that children eat balanced lunches, consisting of one milk product, one meat, one grain and two fruits or vegetables.)
Bartkiw said the daycare center sent her home with a “Lunch Box Supplement Note,” which explained that employees supplemented her children’s meals with Ritz Crackers. The center fined her $5 per child.
While Bartkiw ended up complaining about the fine and had it revoked, she told Canadian outlet Metro News that she finds the Manitoba lunch rules ridiculous on principle.
“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 told Canadian outlet Metro News. “You could send microwave Kraft Dinner everyday and that would count as a grain under the guide.”
In the months since the incident, the daycare center has changed its policy and now provides children with lunches to ensure they are eating balanced meals, according to the Toronto Sun.
The provincial government also commented on the policy in a statement provided to the Toronto Sun.
"The province requires child-care centres to ensure children have nutritious and balanced meals and snacks throughout the day. These can be supplied by the centre or the parents," reads the statement ."The province would expect centres to work with parents in educating them regarding what consists of nutritious meals/snacks."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Kristen Bartkiw as Karen Bartkiw on first reference.