A viral Facebook post shows a written warning from Australian school officials concerning a slice of chocolate cake that was included in a 3-year-old's lunchbox.
A mother was shocked when her second youngest child came home from school with a warning, according to People. School administrators wrote that the slice of chocolate cake included in her child's lunch was confiscated after being deemed not healthy enough.
"Your child has chocolate slice from the Red Food category today," the note reads. "Please choose healthier options for [your child]."
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The mother's friend, author Melinda Tankard Reist, posted the note to Facebook to express her disbelief.
"My friend (mother of 8 healthy children, what follows relating to no. 7) received this today from her 3 year old," she captioned the picture. "I told her to put in two slices tomorrow and tell them to get lost."
Reist tells People that the mother has a degree in health science and made the chocolate cake for her son's birthday. She put leftover slices in all of her children's lunches, but only received backlash from her 3-year-old's kindergarten.
The post quickly blew up and has received 2,400 likes and 550 shares in five weeks.
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"It seems the memo struck a chord with many parents," said Reist. "While many agreed we want to encourage healthy eating in children, the majority feeling was that this was poor communication, an interference in their parenting, was heavy-handed and could contribute to problems of food shaming in children."
Reist initially posted the note to raise awareness concerning how people are shamed for what they eat, reports Us Weekly. Reist is a blogger who commonly writes on eating disorders and other issues facing young women and girls.
"The eating disorder specialists that I work with have said that when we shame children around food we can contribute to body image dissatisfaction, even eating disorders," she said.
After posting the note on Feb. 2, she was surprised to see how many parents had similar stories.
"This happened to my wife when she sent in sugar-free zucchini brownies, our son was the same age," one father wrote.
Another mother said that she was "lectured about healthy lunches" by her child's teacher after she included a small chocolate egg in her child's lunchbox. She says that the lunch also contained carrots, apples and chicken.
Reist hopes these stories will change the way schools approach nutrition.
"We need to be very careful about contributing to food shaming in children, which can lead to harmful ideas about food and eating, contributing to body image issues," she told People. "There needs to be open communication in a way that while supportive of school policy on healthy eating, engages with parents in an open and positive way."