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Parents force school to ditch 'costly' fruit break

Parents force school to ditch 'costly' fruit break

Published: 11 Oct 2011 16:00 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 Oct 2011 16:00 GMT+02:00

Disgruntled parents have prompted a school in eastern Sweden to abandon in-class fruit breaks after complaining over the costs of having kids bring fruit from home.

“For us with three children, the total comes up to around 1,140 – 1,710 kronor ($170-255) per academic year,” a parent at the Ramdals school in Oxelösund in eastern Sweden wrote in a complaint sent to the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen), the Aftonbladet newspaper reported.

According to Swedish law, school should be free of charge for all children.

Parents have taken exception to requests that they supply the fruit eaten by their children during mid-morning breaks, arguing that the costs of purchasing the fruit constitutes a fee and thus violates the law.

In addition to the cost of buying fruit for their children to take to school, the parents have criticised Ramdals school for asking students to bring their own lunches during once a month nature hikes.

The school’s acting principal, Conny Mindemark, claims that bringing food from home is voluntary.

“We make no demand that the children must have fruit with them,” he told Aftonbladet.

The point of having students bring fruit was to allow for them to have a joint fruit break together in class, but the school doesn’t have the funds to purchase the fruit itself.

But following the complaint, the school has opted to scrap the fruit break for students.

“It’s no fun if one child can never have fruit and has to watch when others eat,” Mindemark told the newspaper.

A number of schools around the country have since scrapped fruit breaks due to parental complaints.

In late September, a school in Jönköping in central Sweden stopped encouraging students to bring fruit to school after parents took issue with the practice.

Ingegärd Hilborn, a legal expert at the Schools Inspectorate said at the time that she has previously ruled on several cases regarding fees for class trips, but that she had never been forced to examine the question of whether it was okay to ask parents to send fruit with their children to school.

“The school can ask or urge parents to do so, but it must be voluntary,” she told the TT news agency at the time.

The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:12 October 11, 2011 by The Grand Master
Pathetic, these parents should be happy to pay a small amount that ensures their kids get some healthy fruit. Bet they are the first ones to buy the kids junk food. It's not as though it's gonna break the bank, a years worth of fruit will cost less than the average Swedish adult would spend on booze in a week. Total idiots!
17:31 October 11, 2011 by nyag
at the same time I am sure these parents have no problem lining up in front of systembolaget prior to weekends to buy their batch of weekend booze....

How stingy and lame can they be and inconsiderate about their children's health can these parents be.. The school ain't asking fruits for themselves... they are asking for their kids.. And apple costs 15 kr/kg... cant u spare that???
17:53 October 11, 2011 by space2
Oh my god! For these parents 1100KR a YEAR doesn't worth the HEALTH of their kids? As I understand this, they don't eat fruit at home either (otherwise they could simply bring that food to school). Did they hear about scorbut/scurvy?
18:22 October 11, 2011 by cattie
The point of the lawsuit is that the school rule violates the LAW. Which is that attending public school is free in Sweden. The suit is not about the nutritional value of fruit.

We have no choice but fruit from home for mid-morning snack at school. Year-round, fruit or nothing. It does feel rather dictatorial to me as a parent to provide only one type of snack for my child at school. No other type of snack is permitted. Some kids at the school bring "sneaky snacks" to school. My son has repeatedly requested if he could bring a sandwich as a sneaky snack. This is a bit frustrating, since I will not support him breaking the school rule.
18:27 October 11, 2011 by rdx
1100 SEK for 3 kids per academic year is too much for these parents................they should try schools in other countries..................then they will appreciate schools here
18:42 October 11, 2011 by space2
@cattie: well, yes and no. Fruit is not mandatory. Of course if one kid alone won't bring food, he might feel bad, but it's still allowed to not bring any food. So actually from the LAW's point of view, it's ok, it doesn't brake it. It might break a moral law (since the kid would feel bad, and to avoid that, the parents need to give him food). On the other hand, on a moral point of view, it's better to teach the kids to eat more fruit, since it will make them healthier.

I wonder what will happen in this school now? The other kids from now on cannot bring fruit? Then this is punishing the other kids, so I don't know how the school can allow that.

Another interesting point: for gym-class, kids have to have an extra pair of shoes, used only in the gym-class. So applying the same logic, this is another extra fee for attending the school. So, as a next step gym-class should be banned as well?!
19:00 October 11, 2011 by star10
well, now I realize that there are a lot of dumb people in this country (contrary to its level of economic development).
20:19 October 11, 2011 by jacquelinee
Don't be so hard on everyone. Why pay for fruit just because has vitamins, nturients and antioxidants to keep you children healthy when it costs so much more than sending your kids off with a pocket full of bubble gum which apparently, according to Swedish research, makes them think SO much better and costs next to nothing?
20:32 October 11, 2011 by muscle
lol... what the hell, and here in ronneby (yes its a small city that exists in SWEDEN) the trees remain flooded with apples, bushes remain flooded with berries and in summer trees are boiling with cherries!!! Yet, no one wants to eat them.! :) they stay there... and they rot... but no one wishes to eat 'em :)
20:32 October 11, 2011 by skogsbo
I love it when the American's in the US attempt to lecture other folk on their diet, almost mandatory fruit for all kids as a snack from Dagis onwards is great. There is no escalation where the posh kids bring fancier (usually fattier) foods in and the main thing being it is fantastic for the kids diet. No matter how much rubbish they get fed by their tight stingy unhealthly poor example setting parents, at least they get vitamins etc at school.

If these parents still have sky, playstations, latest mobile phone, TV is kids bedrooms.. etc etc then they can certainly afford fruit for their kids. It's all about priorities, your wallet versus your kids long term health.

If Sweden doesn't maintain this fruit tradition, then it will soon head the way of the US and the UK, having porky little kids everywhere.
22:33 October 11, 2011 by Streja
The new school law is very strict on fees, sometimes bordering on stupidity.

It's weird how my mum could always afford to give me an apple to school if I needed one.
23:21 October 11, 2011 by space2
Btw, if you buy a happy meal in Sweden, you get also carrots or apples. In Hungary, nothing extra. In Germany, my kids also got goodies (gummy bear, if I remember right). I was proud of Sweden :-)

@jacquelinee In Lund, the cherry trees are very popular :-)
00:58 October 12, 2011 by willowsdad
Maybe there's hope.
01:12 October 12, 2011 by Satch
The school should be buying in fruit for breaks. It buys food for lunch and snacks. Our children's school provides fruit breaks.
01:24 October 12, 2011 by engagebrain
It is probably about profits - for a private school to provide food eats into the profits that can be taken out by the owners.

For profit schools are simply wrong and inevitably create a tension between using the state's funds for education and cash in the owner's pockets.
06:30 October 12, 2011 by Rishonim
People down yonder in them parts of Sweden are not the sharpest pencils in the box. Those hillbillies in Deliverance are intellectuals compared with the freaks one encounter while traveling across this country ;-)
10:30 October 12, 2011 by izbz
Wow!!!! 1710kr AYEAR.....Just imagine how many bottles of alchohol those parents who complained can buy with 1710kr?????

I think they'll rather spend the money on Friday or Saturday night out in a bar than letting their kids eat heathy fruits.

Mayb they rather buy snaps with fruit in the bottle for themselves than for their children
11:30 October 12, 2011 by nolikegohome
this story has made these stingy and selfish parents the talk of the world. How mean can you really be? Fruits in this land is found all over, just look at how many apples pears and plums simply fall off the trees this time of the year. And its free. Shame on these parents. On the other hand there are parents who sacrifice a meal or two just so as their children can eat properly and be health. I am shocked to know Sweden has such people living in it.
12:12 October 12, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ skogsbo #10

I love this blanket statement you get from Swedes on here whenever a negative componant of Sweden or it's society is revealed in some way.

Well. what about you in the US or the UK?

reminds me so much of grade school. If a kid did something stupid and it was pointed out, the resonse was somethink like, "Well, well, maybe I did, but you stink. Nah nah nah nah nah!"

I guess posts like this are just the grown up Swedish version of this behaviour" But, then again, it is so much easier than actually seeing the problem. If you see them, then you may actually have to do some WORK to FIX them! OH NO! I said the "W" word and the "F" word, and they are not whiskey and Fika, so no one wants to hear them..
13:29 October 12, 2011 by soultraveler3
Agree with jacqueline above.

Why is impossible for some people to discuss problems in Sweden without pulling out something like "Well at least it's better than the UK / US!" Seriously? It does sound like something that would be said on a playground.,

Hate to break it to you skogsbo, but Sweden is starting to catch up to the UK/US when it comes to being overweight anymore. There was an article on here a little while ago saying that now half of Swedish men and a third of the women are overweight now. The junk food article from a couple weeks ago also mentioned this "Sweden has never before seen as much obesity and overweight people".

Back to this article; it's ridiculous that some parents are complaining about having to buy fruit or a lunch once per month for a nature walk.

Bananas, apples and oranges are almost always cheap here and available year round. You could even grab one of those free kid bananas at the grocery store if you were in a really tight spot, although it probably wouldn't be a good idea to make a habit of it.

The once a month nature walks are wonderful. Does it really cost that much to buy a fresh roll and put some turkey and spinach on it once a month?

The parents sound cheap not poor.
15:11 October 13, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ muscle #9

I agree. Where I live there are pear trees, apple trees and chrry trees loaded with fruit that no one picks and it falls to the ground and rots. I guess the clue here is the "picking" aspect. That is just SOOO much extra work. Sending your kids to school with 15 crowns to buy a pack of gum is just easier (apparently chewing gum makes Swedish students exceptionally bright!????!!!)
15:17 October 14, 2011 by tadchem
Here in the US children are not allowed to bring food from home. The schools administrators can't control what the kids eat, and it's ALL about 'control.'

Even children with prescribed medications must leave them with the school nurse, and have the nurse re-dispense the medications.
21:36 October 14, 2011 by chrisco
Amazing story.
21:22 October 18, 2011 by orangetree
one fool throw a needle in the well. now we are trying to take it out!!
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