“Don’t share food!” This is the rule that elementary students especially seem to have instilled in them from the first day of school. I know why we have this rule. We’re worried about food allergies and food restrictions. This makes sense. But lately I’ve been thinking about what message a stringent rule such as this one sends to kids.
I think we want to teach all students to be safe when it comes to sharing food. Children need to know if they’re allergic to food items, and classmates need to understand the importance of not sharing certain foods because of these allergies. But in the same regard, I also think that something wonderful happens when we share a little food.
- My teaching partner, Paula, goes to Tim Horton’s for lunch most days, and she always brings back an extra large bun. The students are excited about the “Tim Horton’s bread,” and a couple of them always gather around her for a few small pieces of bread with butter. As they eat, they talk, they sing, and they laugh.
- I rarely manage to finish my lunch, and our students always know that I’ll often have a piece of fruit left after the second nutrition break. Sometimes the students will ask for “an apple,” and just like with Paula, this is when we sit down, talk, and eat together.
- Every Wednesday is Popcorn Day, and I’ll always purchase some extra bags of popcorn each week. Why? Because there’s something special about sharing popcorn, stories, and smiles.
Food connects us! I’m not suggesting that we share sweet treats or carelessly give away lunches, but I’m wondering if there are exceptions to every rule, including this one.
- We share toys.
- We share tools.
- We share space.
- Maybe there’s something to be said for sharing the joy that comes from sharing food.
What do you think? I continue to wonder if sometimes the “no sharing food” rule could become a “maybe.”
Guided sharing? Agree with everything you said, Aviva. But as a parent whose young child had food allergies, I might feel more comfortable with “guided” sharing. In the same way we would help our children determine when to stop for a snack during their busy day, or when a quiet time might be beneficial (until such time as they learn to self regulate!) maybe guided sharing – in a class where known food allergies exist, checking in before sharing amongst children??
Thanks for your comment! I think this makes a lot of sense, Jill! I also wonder about snack programs (at some schools), Food Fridays (a class cooking activity that we did weekly last year), and even the #healthysnackinK option that @kinderfynes (on Twitter) does with her class. These are all ways to still share in the camaraderie that comes with sharing food, but maybe in a safer way for those students that need it. I wonder if this could be a good middle ground.
My kids are allergy free so I think it’s a lovely idea. Such a nice a way to spend time together.
Thank you so much, Jane! I think that the community building time that comes from this food sharing is a wonderful thing.
I love the idea of sharing food. And since mine don’t have allergies it’s easy for me to say that. I do understand the importance of not sharing for allergies. But I think it could be worked into a great lesson about allergies! When children know what they are allergic to they can ask questions about the foods and with guidance the students and other teachers/parents can be sure they don’t come into contact. As adults we love sharing food. I think about girls night where we share an appetizer, or movies where we share a bag of popcorn. Lots of great things come from sharing food! Or maybe a bottle of wine 😉 hahaha
Thanks for your comment, Rachael! I totally agree with you here about the importance of the “teaching” and “guidance” that can come if a child does have an allergy. Students really take food allergies seriously, as do parents, and I think that this provides a wonderful learning opportunity for kids. Maybe a more “guided” option as Jill suggested would be good in this case. I’ve also done Food Fridays in the past (where we cook together as a class once a week), and I always ensured that the food was safe for all. Maybe this could be a way to share if allergies are an issue. The social benefits that you mentioned here are ones that are worth considering, and I love the connections that come from “sharing food.” We just need to keep everyone safe while doing so.
P.S. I think we’ll skip sharing the wine … at least in Kindergarten 🙂 (hahaha)!
I love this idea of sharing food during snack or lunch times.
In addition to all the benefits you’ve already mentioned, it’s a natural way for children to share each other’s cultural backgrounds without the pretenses of specific culture days that often occur in Canada. This guided sharing of food opens up a whole can of conversations in which children and teachers alike get to take part: from simple everyday conversations to deeper ones that enable everyone to open up and learn more about one another.
Thanks for the comment, Camille! This is such a wonderful point. Our students actually speak a lot about their lunch choices and the connections to their culture. Since we have this open snack table, and students come here throughout the day when they’re hungry, it’s very common to see Paula or I sitting down to eat with them. Maybe having this adult, as well as child, connections at lunch helps this happen more. Whatever the reason, I love these conversations, and extending them to trying different foods, sounds like a fantastic thing!