17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

From the Tales Inbox: On Being Fed at Church

Here is my issue:

I don't understand why church meetings and activities have to mix with so much junk food. Specifically, I have a major problem with teachers and leaders in Primary feeding my kids candy and treats.

I am actually a counselor in the Primary Presidency and have brought this issue up several times pointing out the very specific guidelines in the church handbook. Our Primary President agrees but is not one to enforce. The secretary agrees but says we should just be happy to have teachers who are willing to serve and they should do whatever they can to keep the kids quiet. The other counselor flat out disagrees with me and says the "handbook- who reads it? It is for people in other countries". She says feeding someone is a way of showing love and making church fun.... So the next Sunday is fast Sunday and I'm in the hall with my baby and I observe a handful of kids run to the bishop's office begging for candy. He says "Well its fast Sunday so just don't tell your parents" as they run off stuffing their faces with candy. I don't think the bishop will hear or understand my case either.

Is it just Utah or is it all Mormons? Why are we a bunch of sugar addicts? Last fall we gathered as a Stake for the Relief Society General Broadcast and after there was a chocolate buffet. I think that is the last thing we needed after being spiritually filled. Maybe I was the only one who returned home with a stomach ache.

I'm okay with a treat once in awhile but I believe when the intention of a meeting is to be spiritually feed--let's keep it at that. The greatest experience I had was teaching early morning seminary in a ghetto branch of South Philadelphia. We were trained by CES leaders and specifically told not to bring food into our lessons. We were allowed one party with a budget of 50$ per year. This bothered me because I knew most of the kids were coming from homes with empty cupboards and would go to school hungry. I asked for special permission to feed the kids. The CES leader told me "no" and that what the kids needed more than food was spiritual nourishment.

Am I too idealistist wanting the same thing for my kids? I don't take them to church for a birthday party atmosphere...I want them to be spiritually feed. For that specific reason we have eliminated all treats and feeding (except for a baby who needs to be nursed) during sacarment meeting. I feed the kids a good breakfast and then promise them a "reverence treat" when we return home. Besides that, I am also very cautious about what my kids can and cannot eat. They are very sensitive to dyes, sugar, and other processed garbage. The nursery leaders already think I'm strange for saying no "gummies" or sugary snacks...instead I brought in some fresh fruit and organic crackers.

I just don't think the kids and youth at church should be feed like little piggies and puppies to keep them happy. They are a generation who need more than entertainment and socializing at church. They need to be sensitive to and fed and nourished by the Spirit. I heard a great quote from a BYU professor (can't remember her name) "How do we expect our youth to control their sexual desires when they cannot hold back on one chocolate chip cookie?"

I feel somewhat alone in my opinion on this and sorry it is so lengthy. I'm just curious if there is anyone else out there who shares the same strong feelings.

A Tales Reader


  • I agree with you. I too am in the Primary Presidency in my ward. We have several children with really bad food allergies. Overall we don't have a problem with the teachers giving food but one time we did have one giving a Snickers to a kid with peanut allergies. Thank goodness he knew that he couldn't have it or else we would have had a big problem.
    That is sad that there is such a problem in your presidency with the issue. Worse yet, the bishop.
    I also don't get why we bless refreshments to "nourish and strenghten our bodies." What is nourishing about chocolate or deserts? Nothing.
    For tiny kids, I think they do need a snack in nursery. I know my son is kind of a beast if his blood sugar gets low. But, by the time they get to Primary, they should be able to last 3 hours.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 08:25:00 AM  

  • I see both sides of this issue. Being a new mom who doesn't even let her baby have wheat yet I can see where you're coming from in the health aspect. It's frustrating to try to set boundaries in your children's lives when others unwittingly undo all your hard work. I also understand the need to spiritually nourish and not to pander to the kids of this upcoming generation. It seems like I know too many kids who live up to the lower expectations we set for them.

    However, I also teach the 12-13 year olds in my ward. I try to remember what it was like when I was a kid. I liked treats. It made class more fun. It made paying attention a little easier. I'm not talking being hopped up on some serious sugar, but sometimes something as little as a couple of hersheys kisses, or 1 cookie. I disagree with your Bishop in giving candy to kids on fast Sunday. That's a terrible example all around. But I also disagree with your Seminary advisor--I too taught EM seminary (in NYC) and if kids aren't getting any physical nourishment at home, they're not going to be able to get the spiritual nourishment they need. Jesus always feed the hungry before he taught. Anyway, I see your greater point, but as a teacher who struggles to teach these kids in the first place there is a big part of me that says, "yeah, you should just be grateful I'm trying..." If we tried to adjust our Sundays to meet the needs of every parents wishes, nothing would get done.
    posted by Blogger miggy at 2/14/2008 08:41:00 AM  

  • As a Primary teacher, I've tried to be very careful about this, and not bring in any treats for the kids (and the lessons that recommend bringing a snack of some sort have all fallen on Fast Sundays so far giving me an excuse to just skip that part of the lesson). My husband, however, who team-teaches with me, is a strong believer in bribing the kids with something they really enjoy in order to get them to pay attention during class. I recently bought some fruit snacks to use as a special treat for them some time (I don't think I'm going to let them eat them during class though), but I'd much prefer to bring some apple slices or crackers or something in general, on the few occasions when I give in DH wanting to bring treats. I've been trying to steer it more towards non-food rewards anyway, which seems to be working well so far.

    I don't mind small snacks so much in general though. At least it's not nearly as bad as one of my YW leaders who would take us to her house occasionally during class and feed us waffles and give a very short lesson. Or the Sunday School teacher who made us doughnuts during class. Or the teachers who brought in boxes of Krispy Kremes. I think I'd take a thing of fruit snacks over that any day (loved getting the food as a teen, but I don't remember any of the accompanying lessons, just the food).
    posted by Blogger kadusey at 2/14/2008 08:42:00 AM  

  • Also--with the rise in serious food allergies, I think the parent should alert ANY and ALL persons who may be in a position of authority over their children about their food allergy. I know as a parent I would make that my responsibility and not leave it up to chance...
    posted by Blogger miggy at 2/14/2008 08:45:00 AM  

  • It isn't a "Utah thing". Our Utah ward strongly encourages teachers to follow the 'no food' guidelines. Obviously, they don't freak out if a teacher brings a treat once in a while, but it is out of the ordinary.

    Even in nursery, snacks are low sugar. We don't even have froot loops because of the artificial colors and high fructose corn syrup. I asked, and was delighted to hear the reason.

    I would really hate for my jr. primary age kids to get fruit snacks at church. They don't get them at home because they're just a wad of processed sugar. I wouldn't say anything to their teacher - I know Primary teaching isn't easy. But I would much prefer teachers bring crackers as a snack instead of high fructose corn syrup wrapped in jelly and food coloring.

    Older kids and teenagers can get bribed more often with treats if the teacher wants to. Although, do be careful of making other teachers feel pressured to bring treats. Once in a while is fine. Every week leads to kids in other classes whining to their teachers, "but Sister Jones brings candy bars!" I used to be one of those teachers who brought treats every week. After a while, I figured out I was making it hard on other teachers and quit bringing them.
    posted by Blogger Melinda at 2/14/2008 10:06:00 AM  

  • I'm commenting as I finish a frosted gingerbread cookie. But that being said I agree. We've had wards that "banned" treats all together. The focus should be on Christ. We shouldn't do whatever it takes for them to be quiet. And teachers shouldn't expect kids to act like adults. But the bishop saying something like just don't tell your parents blows me away. My head is spinning. You're right and maybe you should talk to the stake primary presidency? Good luck!
    posted by Blogger Angela at 2/14/2008 10:42:00 AM  

  • Well, I can safely say that it's not a "Utah" thing. Bribing children to behave with food is a long-held tradition in many a ward, in Canada, Idaho, and California. (Okay, that's not very many plaes, but it's the only examples I can give with conviction because I've lived there.)

    As a PP in Utah, I followed the handbook as closely as I could, and food was very limited. A treat now and then was not a problem, but we let the teachers know, without doubt, that they were to know about their students' allergies before bringing treats to church.

    Here in California? Our ward LIVES for food. There are treats every single week --in class, in sharing time, treats from the Bishop for birthdays, treats at all functions (okay, not all at the same time). But it's all about food, food, food!

    And you know what? It's not so bad.

    I thought I would be more upset than I am (and I was at first) --I mean, like you, I don't even bring food to Sacrament Meeting (okay, maybe a bottle for the baby ;) ). But for some reason, the way our ward does it seems to work. And although it seems excessive, I realize it's because I went from NO treats to MANY treats, and it feels excessive. But it's not.

    Okay, but with that said, I still think it's important to be vigilant about making sure our children are learning how to feel the spirit, and not how to unwrap a chocolate bar. It is important to follow the guidelines in the handbook (which are obviously written there for our benefit). And it is especially important to keep the focus on what they are learning.

    I guess what it boils down to (because I'm long winded like this and can't seem to make up my mind) is moderation. Forcing children to eat nothing, or just organic crackers versus giving children candy all the time...? I would pick the middle part. Some candy, some crackers, but not all the time.

    Any extremism is unhealthy.
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 2/14/2008 10:46:00 AM  

  • P.S. I am, however, sad about your Bishop passing out treats on Fast Sunday. That's just weird. And I hope your PPresidency can come to an agreement about it all. It's hard when there's disagreement, believe you me, I know! Good luck. :)
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 2/14/2008 10:47:00 AM  

  • I agree- it has become quite the problem- at least in my Utah ward. I feel bad for the kids with allergies that feel left out when the other kids get candy. I think nursery is one thing- with little toddlers needing nourishment every few hours. But Primary, it should maybe be a different kind of treat or reward- other than food. I guess there is no way to stop it though- unless the First Presidency sends a statement or something. My kids love getting candy, but I think the teachers should ask the parents first before they hand it out freely. It should be about spiritual nourishment- you're right. But there is probably no easy answer to this one... A good topic for discussion. I'll be interested in reading others' comments too.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 10:57:00 AM  

  • I don't think it's just a Utah thing, and it's not even just a church thing. My children are handed sugary garbage all day long at school by teachers, aides, volunteers, recess workers, other children...it goes on and on. So when Sunday rolls around, they don't find anything particularly surprising about getting a bunch of candy in their pockets for behaving or listening.

    I somehow feel more allowed to complain at the school than I do at church. At school, these people are being paid to educate my children, but at church, everyone is a volunteer, and they are also volunteering their junk food. So as much as I abhor the garbage that regularly rotates into our house from church, I don't know exactly how or who to complain to!

    But you're definitely not alone...
    posted by Blogger Justine at 2/14/2008 11:26:00 AM  

  • I agree that it is uncalled for to have a constant flow of treats at church- with that I would also like to add school, the bank, the mall, the grocery store (being handed out for free), etc.. Some times I feel I can't walk OUTSIDE without someone giving our kids a sucker! That does get on my nerves.

    One funny thing I have done is realize that when kids are at church they usually see ANY form of food as a "treat". So I will bring something really plain like pretzel rods or crackers, or even just dry cereal in ziplock baggies for them if they feel like they are "starving" at church. And it calms thier desire to snack, without being complete JUNK.

    Also, I taught sunbeams for 2 years in our old ward, and I will tell ya it was a STUGGLE for me. The first part of the year when those new little ones come from nursery where there are games, toys, and food galore, and are expected to sit for 2 hours straight- it is TOUGH! I broke down and started to bring snacks for a break time during our class.

    I would bring fruit cut up into peices and crackers usually. So a healthy snack that they always LOVED. Just the act of eating calmed them down. I don't know why, but it helped me get through.

    After that age though- certainly only on special occasions should it be neccesary to have food at church.
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 2/14/2008 12:11:00 PM  

  • I think food should be rare for classes. The only exception I see is Sunbeams for the same reasons Rachel H listed.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 12:36:00 PM  

  • As the annoynmous guest writer of this post I will say that all the leaders, teachers, and bishop in our ward are great people. They are harmless in their intention to give treats. It is good that they want to serve and please those they serve. It would be better if they followed the handbook. But it would be best if they sought inspiration by the Spirit. I do believe giving treats is a bit of a crutch and may be interfering with what our children really need – spiritual nurishment. I am just amazed how wide spread this problem actually is.

    The resource guide, Teaching No Greater Call, offers great inspiration and direction for all of us as we are all teachers in some respect. Had it not been for this little issue I would not have studied and pondered over it. I would have set it aside just like some people do the church handbook. The First Presidency does not have to come out with a grand statement on this…it is in the handbook, it is the Scriptures how we should be teaching. Perhaps we are just in need of a gentle reminder.

    DC 11:21 “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea the power of God unto the convincing of men” Also the power to convincing teenagers and noisy little boys in Primary.

    I was given treats all through Primary and Young Women’s – I loved it! I was hungry and would eat anything during church. But what affected me long term was hearing the testimonies of my teachers and leaders.

    Joseph Fielding Smith stated: “The Spirit of God speaking to the spirit of man has power to impart truth with greater effect and understanding than the truth can be imparted by personal contact even with heavenly beings. Through the Holy Ghost the truth is woven inot the very fibre and sinews of the body so it cannot be forgotten” (Doctorines of Salvation, Bruce R. McConkie 1:47-48)

    We are not left to teach alone. We are given all the resources we need to accomplish the work of the Lord. I don’t think treats are one of them. It interferes too much. Treats are fun in families, for holidays, and FHE but are not appropriate in worship and teaching.

    I will also add I was really pleased with the direction we were given at the recent leadership meeting. To focus on the family, and focus on the gospel.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 12:56:00 PM  

  • 3 hours is LONG. It's a long time to go without eating, especially for children. I actually love it that my third grade teacher encourages snacks in class (during reading time, brought from home). Blood sugar levels wreak havoc with learning and discipline. And third grade is not sunbeams.

    People are just built to need "constant nourishment for body and soul".

    Older kids and adults can handle it, but if they are diabetic, or have other blood sugar issues, they can't, and having other people stare them down and telling them to suck it up and think about Christ isn't going to help. Or worse, talking about them behind their backs. (Can you BELIEVE Sister so-and-so? etc.) Also, you never know who might be pregnant and hasn't announced it yet.

    Basically, you do what you want/need with your family, and let others do what they want/need. I personally find younger children need snacks, and as they get older, they understand and can go without, provided they are healthy. But I hand them food the SECOND we get in the car, because 20 minutes travel to home after 20 minutes there, and 3 hours without anything, and I am dealing with serious monsters, and I'm not just talking about the kids. I need to eat more often than every four hours, and if my husband doesn't, it's seriously bad.

    This is why I can never do choir practice if it's right before/after church, you seriously cannot expect me to go that long without eating, and me pulling out food and eating in front of all those hungry people seems, well, less than polite.

    My bishop does do candy, but he puts it away on fast sunday, I've seen kids cry because of it, but I applaud him for it. Your bishop sounds like he's a sucker for kids, and they know it. :)

    Holy long comment, batman, but I agree/disagree with you. They shouldn't get candy just for existing, but I think sometimes we expect too much from our bodies, when all it takes is a little string cheese to make it another three hours.
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 2/14/2008 01:02:00 PM  

  • "I was given treats all through Primary and Young Women’s – I loved it! I was hungry and would eat anything during church. But what affected me long term was hearing the testimonies of my teachers and leaders."

    So you got both. Do you wish you hadn't gotten the food? Are you angry with your former leaders? Do you feel the need to forgive them?
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 2/14/2008 01:07:00 PM  

  • In general I agree with you. However when church meets from 11am--1pm, I'm gonna feed my primary kids.
    posted by Blogger Susan M at 2/14/2008 01:08:00 PM  

  • that last comment sounded snarkier that it was. I really do wonder if you wish your leaders had skipped the food.
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 2/14/2008 01:18:00 PM  

  • To the wiz:

    I believe we were raised during safer times. I got by. I loved the treats during the moment of consumption but then what???

    In hindsight I wish my leaders could have feed me more spiritual nurishment instead... then today I would still be savoring it. Just as Joseph F. Smith stated: it would never be forgotten

    And wiith much foresight, I worry for the world my children face. They need so much more in terms of spiritual nurishment than what we were given. They are a different generation of spirits as well. I think they crave and understand more spiritual knowledge than we give them credit for.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 01:35:00 PM  

  • Also to the whiz-

    I believe blood sugar is a problem. If it is a serious medical problem it needs to be taken care of by the parents not a primary teacher.

    My issue of food at church has nothing to do with feeding ourselves during time of need (I often have to eat a granola bar in the mother's room after nursing my baby). I am disturbed by teachers offering treats against my will and the direction from the handbook.

    Also I know (through my own experience) that blood sugar can be controlled through wholesome diet. That is why I feed my kids a GOOD breakfast before church. I also know that consuming anything type of sugary treats will make the problem worse. Which is a problem for me because we have Primary first then Sacrament meeting. I have to deal with the kid's sugar meltdowns during Sacarment meeting.

    As for school check out
    this article
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 01:56:00 PM  

  • "They need so much more in terms of spiritual nurishment than what we were given."

    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 02:08:00 PM  

  • Treats at church are the least of my worries as a parent today. I agree we Mormons tend to be sugar addicts and that is probably why so many of us are obese.

    I do worry about teaching my children healthy eating habits, and I focus on that in the home where I can control the food they have access to.

    I personally don't have a problem with what the Bishop did. Sometimes older, and wiser people, have more perspective than we do.

    However, considering food allergies and whatnot these days, it is probably best that we all be very careful with what we give other children. I bring snacks for my toddler and whenever other kiddos ask for some I always check with their parents first to make sure it is ok.

    Regarding your current situation, I'm not sure there is much you can do besides gently encouraging healthy snacks, or none. I personally don't think it is the type of thing you should bring to higher authorities. These issues can be frustrating, but I'm sure you can come up with a workable situation with your fellow leaders.

    And one side note, I live in the South where people are quite religious and other churches actually provide much more food than we do. It provides a great way for people to socialize and get to know each other. Of course they are probably serving coffee, sweat tea, and fried chicken which isn't great for you either, but you get the picture: food brings people together, whether it be sweet, salty, low or high fat.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 02:08:00 PM  

  • I guess I'm just confused as to why having some crackers and juice or even the occasional cookie interferes with spiritual nourishment?

    I can see if a ward is completely overrun by sugar, but that seems rare, or maybe I've just always been a member of wards who are good at moderation. At home I am very healthy and my whole family shops and eats that way. But I also know I cannot always control what happens outside of home, so I want to teach my kids to make wise decisions and enjoy the occasional treat. But like I said, maybe I've never witnessed this problem in full force.

    I do think when your child is old enough, fast sunday should be "no snacks", and when I taught Sunbeams I tried to implement that. But toddlers trying to make it from 11am - 2pm sans food seems a little intense.

    I also think as a parent there is nothing wrong with voicing your concerns regarding your children's health. Maybe you could suggest that you would like to bring the snack for your child's nursery class (not sure how old your children are actually). And if your children are older primary children or in YM/YW I would think that they could make their own decisions as to whether or not they want to snack on some candy that the teacher has brought in. (Since it won't be too long that they will be making those decision for themselves in the "real" world anyway.) I am in YW and the girls enjoy treats (even more so healthy ones), but I don't see it interfering in particular with their spiritual attention span.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 2/14/2008 02:21:00 PM  

  • Here are a few of my thoughts - But everyone has to realize there are a lot of different issues in this post to address.

    -I am also in the Primary Presidency in my ward and the president has really been pushing the "no treat" policy as laid out in the handbook. I appreciate it and I also appreciate that she has been working with the teachers to come up with other incentives/ideas to keep children attentive and well behaved. She doesn't just say "no treats" and leave the teachers stranded (especially with our hard 11-1 meeting time).

    -The other problem anonymous seems to be talking about is when treats/food are a substitute for a spiritual feast so to speak. I don't think having food necessarily means you can't also have a spiritual feast as well. But I will say I have been in MANY relief society planning meetings where the menu for an activity is discussed for an hour while the real "meat"/purpose of the activity is discussed for a few minutes. To me, this is a real problem of substituting one for the other.

    -The other issue seems to be candy treats vs. healthier alternatives if a treat is going to be served. I for one am pro healthier alternatives and try to suggest it whenever I can or bring it if I have "signed up" to bring food to an event.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 2/14/2008 02:22:00 PM  

  • I disagree with the "However when church meets from 11am--1pm, I'm gonna feed my primary kids" comment. That should be the parents job, not the Primary teachers. I think teachers use food to use up some lesson time.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 02:26:00 PM  

  • Why our kids need more spiritual nurishment......

    I loved this article from President Hinckley last December. Here is what he said:

    "Behold your little ones. Pray with them. Pray for them and bless them. The world into which they are moving is a complex and difficult world. They will run into heavy seas of adversity. They will need all the strength and all the faith you can give them while they are yet near you. And they will also need a greater strength which comes of a higher power. They must do more than go along with what they find. They must lift the world, and the only levers they will have are the example of their own lives and the powers of persuasion that will come of their testimonies and their knowledge of the things of God. They will need the help of the Lord. While they are young, pray with them that they may come to know that source of strength which shall then always be available in every hour of need "
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 02:34:00 PM  

  • "I am disturbed by teachers offering treats against my will and the direction from the handbook."

    I can see that would be disturbing. Have you specifically asked them not to do it? Do they know it's against your will? Do they know that if they feed your kids you think they consider them "piggies and puppies?"

    This is totally a "ranting" post, and the ranting tone isn't going to help in getting change. It puts people on the defensive.

    I hope it's just you blowing off steam here and that you don't actually talk to teachers in your Primary this way. It's hard to know -blogging is hard like that sometimes.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 02:35:00 PM  

  • I would LOVE to know what wholesome breakfast you feed your kids that lasts them four hours.

    Of course, you may not have the additional travel time, so you may have to deal with only the three hours.

    Do you feed them RIGHT before you leave? Do you ever have to get there early for a meeting or something and that extends your church time? If so, does your breakfast last that long?

    Seriously. Help me out here. I typically feed my kids oatmeal on Sunday mornings, and we do have four hours ahead of us sans food. Do you have something else that will help them get through it so I don't have to throw them bananas and string cheese the second we get in the car?
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 2/14/2008 02:40:00 PM  

  • This is a real toughie, I think one of the biggest problems is that the foods these days are super processed and full of who knows what? I am the PP and under the direction of the Stake PP have discouraged treats but I know one teacher would give treats ie. a cookie if they were good 4 weeks in a row, that seemed O.k. but I do think kids like other treats, such as stickers and pencils and pictures of the temple just as much, my daughetr is a sunbeam and I know she loves stickers, maybe more than candy. Also these days it seems there is a lot of ADD/ADHD and sugar just makes that worse so its also best to avoid candy in those cases. We have a nursery kid with a severe allergy to dairy so I have banned any outside snacks for the nursery and will do the same when she gets into primary, same rule for all, its the only fair way for me. The mom of the kid with the allergy will provide snacks (she'll be re-imbursed from the budget) and any parents who are concerned about the snack can discuss it with her and me to find a good compromise and they are still going to have some fruit as part of the snack. Its hard to be the only one who has different opinions, especially where heathly snacks are concerned and when you feel its more of what the Lord would want and the rest of the people are just disregarding what the handbook says. I could only say pray about it, overall its that your children have an enjoyable church experience, there's not much to keep them coming when they are older if they don't learn to love it as a child. Maybe you could make up a treat box for kids to pick out of and fill it with non candy or more natural stuff like fruit leather. Just a suggestion, good luck.
    posted by Blogger English Garden at 2/14/2008 02:45:00 PM  

  • tftcarrie is right- there are several issues here.

    There is no intention of "ranting" this is just open honest discussion.

    When dealing in person for example with teachers, it is easy to convey a gentler vibe.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 02:47:00 PM  

  • Sorry if that last comment is considered a threadjack. But the poster says that blood sugar issues can be controlled with wholesome food, and I agree with that 100%. Sugar will only make things worse.

    But I canNOT find something that will last that long. So I'm sorry if this is considered a threadjack, since it's not technically about food at church. She can email me (thewiz at mormonmommywars dot com) if she doesn't want to have the discussion here.
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 2/14/2008 02:48:00 PM  

  • I once attended a ward where the GD teacher was a salesman for Hershey. I have never in my life seen a ward with so much candy in it. It really disturbed me. But then, I'm diabetic.
    posted by Blogger Susan M at 2/14/2008 02:58:00 PM  

  • As a beehive teacher, our YW board was counseled to limit treats as much as possible. Our presidency was trained by the stake that the youth need to learn self control and that is hard when they are constantly being given treats. I listened to my presidency and did not bring treats except on special occasions. Looking back on this time, I realize that the lessons I taught without treats were just as good or better. I remember hearing from the beehives at the end of the lesson "that was a great lesson,thanks." If I had handed them a cookie or piece of candy instead of bearing my testimony and having a closing prayer- much of the spirit of the lesson could have been lost.

    Another thought on treats at church - I now have a daughter with severe peanut allergies. The primary presidency and the teachers have been informed of this. However, the last 2 very serious reactions she has had have been from treats given to her at church. The teachers honestly just "forgot" and were extremely sorry. But at such a young age 3&4 - she was not old enough to know whether a candy has nuts in it or not. This is just an example of why we should not give candy or treats at church.

    Last week, my daughter did not have a treat at church, but was so excited to have a sticker that said "I am reverent." There are other ways to reward/praise children other than candy/food/treats.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 02:59:00 PM  

  • As a Sunbeam/CTR teacher, I do provide snacks for the children - mainly goldfish. I have checked with all the parents to make sure there are no food allergy issues. Normally the snack is given when we are doing our class activity - after the lesson has been taught. Our schedule alternates every year - 9a-12p or 1p-4p. I've found that at the end of the 3 hour block, the children are quite hungry. Only once I have provided a "treat" - a Valentine cookie in a plastic baggie that was given to them at the end of class to take home with them. I haven't found the the snack distracts from the lesson or the reverence in the class.
    Maybe I'll try some celery sticks instead, based on the comments.
    posted by Anonymous HK at 2/14/2008 03:00:00 PM  

  • No way do I think most people, especially kids, can go 4 hours without food and still be a regular nice person. My older kid has a super fast metabolism and I basically have to feed him twice within a couple hours when he gets up in the morning (or he is verrry difficult to deal with).

    I appreciate when teachers check with me regarding food allergies before giving snacks to my kids, even though they don't have food allergies. I want to know what's going on. I think if your teacher is giving snacks and you don't approve, you need to let them know and it might be a good idea to provide your own approved snack so your kid isn't the only one not eating. Sometimes it's hard to stand up for yourself and but if you feel something is important, you ought to address it with the people who are involved.

    I would be so irritated by the comment about not wanting to go by the handbook; whenever I'm in a position/calling to follow it I try really hard to do so.
    posted by Blogger Vicki at 2/14/2008 03:04:00 PM  

  • Our kids are 5 and 3 1/2. We still bring a small snack to church - they get it right after the sacrament is passed. They are content and able to get something out of the meeting (we meet 1-4). Once I see that they don't need it, obviously I'll stop. But until then...well...I don't need uncomfortable children at church.

    I'm surprised this has been such a hot topic today...
    posted by Blogger Chloe at 2/14/2008 05:32:00 PM  

  • I have taught in primary for most of the last 10 yrs. And I guess I'm one of the mean teachers that doens't bring treats. I think that in all that time I've brought treats once or twice. I now teach sunbeams, we have church at the 9:30 to 12:30 time slot and none of my 10 kids have ever asked for a snack or acted is if they needed/wanted one. I think that treats are fine when they are the exception not the rule.
    I also quit bringing snacks for my own kids, but we have like a 5 min. drive to church, and I usually make lunch for them before we leave so that's the first thing they do when we get home. Though when we meet during lunch time I bring a small bag of pretzels for both of them.
    And with the bishop giving out candy on fast Sunday, that part didn't bother me as much as him telling them not to tell, that really bothered me. Our old bishop in Utah gave out candy and I was okay with it for the most part becasue me kids knew who the bishop was, his name, etc. But I must say we had an awesome bishop, he called everyone in the ward on their b-day to say hi, how cool is that! But when it came to fast Sunday the kids knew not to ask because he didn't hand it out.
    posted by Blogger Moddy at 2/14/2008 05:42:00 PM  

  • An earlier comment said "we Mormons tend to be sugar addicts and that is probably why so many of us are obese." - ummm, which Mormons?? I think you are maybe talking about US or North American Mormons, and not thinking in terms of us belonging to a worldwide church.

    Also, the candy in Primary sounds like a US/American thing rather than being just a Utah thing. I have never encountered outside, except when the PR teacher was from the US.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 06:25:00 PM  

  • Anon 6:25, yes, I was referring to North American Mormons.; sorry, I should have stated that. I have not seen this addiction to sugar, or weight problems, in LDS populations in the two countries I lived in overseas, (one in Africa, one in Latin America).

    However, in both of those countries branch meals were served more frequently than they are here, so once again, I think it has to do with the fact that people like food. And here in N. America we like to serve cheap, sugary, prepackaged food.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 06:38:00 PM  

  • You know what the most disturbing part of this rant is? That you are putting the burden of your child's spiritual nourishment on the Primary teachers.

    Sorry, folks. Spiritual nourishment should happen first and foremost in the home. The primary is there to teach your kids, but YOU are your child's first and most important teacher.

    Seriously, I know this is a ranting post, and I'd love to see organic snacks and such used more in nursery, etc. But I do not expect my children's religious education to happen in primary. I expect it to happen at home. I expect Primary to reiterate what I am teaching. Nothing more. And if the teachers have to toss some sugar my kid's way to get through the ridiculously long, completely developmentally inappropriate meeting block, I'm ok with that.


    We do eggs on Sunday mornings when we have 9am church. That helps. I also bring food in the car on the way to church, so J doesn't whine about food during Sacrament meeting. I also bring food to eat before choir practice, like an orange, as well as food for DH to eat before Sacrament, as by that time he has been in meetings for 2 hours.
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 2/14/2008 08:26:00 PM  

  • And maybe it's just my cold medicine talking, but I think the quote equating chocolate chip cookies with sex is a little bit simplistic, does little to teach what chastity is all about, and employs guilt and scare tactics that can be detrimental. It's as bad as comparing somebody who has had chastity issues to a piece of chocolate that has been handled by the entire seminary class. If you want to really spiritually nourish kids, don't feed them spiritually twinkies like THAT.
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 2/14/2008 08:36:00 PM  

  • Heather O:

    You are right. The greatest spiritual teaching is done in the home. The Primary President later reminded me of that.

    I still believe this is a worthy discussion and not just a rant. There are obviously others who share my concern.

    To the Wiz:

    We too typically have eggs or some sort of protein before church. Definately feed your kids in the car, feed them at church if you feel it is needed.

    I am just asking others not to feed my children during Primary.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 09:07:00 PM  

  • Heather O:

    Okay, after re-reading the original post the tone is a bit harsh. You may call it a rant.

    But it sure has been helpful to review the response. My problem is I let this fester for 2 years before addressing the problem. I thought it would be solved in one presidency meeting and was quite disappointed when it was disregarded.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/14/2008 09:22:00 PM  

  • We've got six boys and four girls (ten yrs old) in a very small classroom. For me, if giving them a small sucker or some fruit snacks helps win some of their cooperation, it is money well spent. However, if a parent specifically asked for her child to not be given a treat, I would respect her wishes.

    I don't really think a small treat each Sunday will turn them into sugar addicts.
    posted by Blogger Tammy at 2/15/2008 04:29:00 AM  

  • Anon, this is a great topic of discussion and I think you have some very valid concerns and thoughts. It's frustrating- I can understand. However, as a Primary teacher myself, sometimes a small treat is a "morale booster" and helps the kids pay attention longer. While the "spiritual feast" is most important, children are extremely young to understand this concept. I think a parent should be able to choose whether or not their child should have treats at church. BUT, it is their responsibility to inform the leaders of their wishes.

    Other rewards should be ALSO available besides food too- like stickers, pencils, etc. But sometimes treats are the easiest things for teachers to bring to show their children that they care and appreciate their listening and attendance at church. I know that our old Primary Singing Time leader would get the kids to memorize the article of faith songs by rewarding them with brownies and cookies after they did. Yes, they had a treat at the end, but they memorized something so important and I think that's so great! I think we should all lighten up a bit. We shouldn't have to walk away from our meetings frustrated and upset. We should just realize that everybody has different opinions and, in the end, at least we made it to church! :)
    posted by Anonymous Utah Mommy of Four at 2/15/2008 09:14:00 AM  

  • Hurray for doing your best! I am all about no guilt. I would hate for someone who is volunteering their time and effort in primary as a teacher to be offended and quit over twinkies. Lets encourage each other and make next Sunday say thanks to people doing their best week wherever they are on this (or any) issue.
    That said, I am also in favor of training and learning how to be a better teacher.
    I can definitely see why it is in the handbook in the first place. I have a friend who was told flat out by her youth age students "We will not come unless you bring us treats." I can only imagine that came about from years of expectating treats to be provided. She was a young married at the time and I am sure her budget would not have stretched that far even if she had wanted to do it each week.
    It reminded me of one of the experiences of the Savior. First he fed the 5000 and taught them. Then the next day many people followed him expecting free food. When he didn't provide it they left. (See John 6:26) Then Jesus delivers the sermon of the Bread of Life. I do not want my children to be like those youth in my friend's ward who were getting confused about bread and the Bread of Life. So when my daughter comes home complaining about no treats I try to remind her not to expect them, but to be grateful when they come. One day she came home and told me the sub had a personal policy never to bring treats. I make a special effort to say thank you to her for debunking the expectation. We want them to enjoy being there, and know what the the spirit feels like. When there is an occasional treat we want them to be truly grateful. We do not want them to be expecting food and then become totally uncooporative if they don't get it. Feeling the spirit can be it's own reward.
    Don't get me wrong, an occasional treat can be okay, and I am NOT addressing parents providing for their own kids, blood sugar or long rides to chuch. Clearly, do what you have to do. I am only talking about teachers.
    I am saying that an unspoken expectation that treats should always be provided is harmful to the kids and burdensome for the teachers. Kids need to be able to behave without food.

    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/15/2008 12:40:00 PM  

  • Please note- the Savior did feed those in need, he did not want them to faint on the way home. As far as I know the handbook allows for simple snacks for nursery, clearly those with diabetic tendancies should watch their blood sugar carefully etc. However, he did not feed the crowd that said give us food or we are leaving. That, in addition to allergies etc. is another possible reason for the instruction in the handbook.

    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/15/2008 02:15:00 PM  

  • "And if the teachers have to toss some sugar my kid's way to get through the ridiculously long, completely developmentally inappropriate meeting block, I'm ok with that."

    Amen, Heather. I know all the tricks to keep my kid happy, but even I would have an impossible time given the length of primary. The poor 19-year-old teacher doesn't know my kid as well as I do and thus needs to have some extra ammo. She is doing her very best and since there are no allergy issues here, I'm cool w/ it.

    Also, I have to point out that the original poster stated that she provides a "reverence treat" for her kids after church. Why not share this motivational "technique" with someone less experienced and who probably needs it more?
    posted by Anonymous Belle at 2/15/2008 03:13:00 PM  

  • A couple of years ago, I bought a fabulous book called "Death Warmed Over: Funeral Food, Rituals, and Customs from Around the World" by Lisa Rogak. I immediately turned to the "Mormon" section. (other sections include other religions as well as countries and ethnic groups.) Here is what it says, in part, about us and our sugar:
    (page 98) "...its believers are prohibited from partaking in alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. Since that doesn't leave much, sugar appears frequently on the menu at any Mormon get-together. As one ex-Mormon put it, 'If there's a way to put sugar in a recipe, Mormons will do it.'" This is followed by a recipe for Frog Eye Salad. :)

    This is written by a non-member and there is some mis-information in this section. However, I wonder if this is a valid point. Sugar is our only vice???

    Check out a book by Alfie Kohn called, "Punished by Rewards" in which he argues that rewarding or bribing children and adults for expected behavior will diminsh their own intrinsic motivation. What if the kid only comes to primary b/c he is made to by his parents and because it involves gummies/donuts/cookies/candy? What if Mom is already struggling to get him to church b/c Dad won't go and one week he doesn't get his gummies?

    I am in a branch where we hold 2 hour meetings instead of 3. We have 20 minutes of driving each way. I take a snack for myself. I never feed my primary kids because I think it is up to their parents to feed them (except for nursery kids.) Small snacks are one thing, but when the kid in the bench in front of me breaks out the container full of spaghetti, I think that is pretty excessive.
    posted by Anonymous LisaC at 2/15/2008 05:38:00 PM  

  • May I be blunt? Why is this such a big issue? Kids LOVE snacks. Let them enjoy it. If you have a problem with your children eating something at church then teach them not to eat those foods.
    posted by Blogger Razzy at 2/16/2008 12:49:00 AM  

  • Hi, I have been known to drink coca cola classic during sacrament meeting when I am pregnant. I also pack a snack for myself every week (except for Fast Sunday), because I get grumpy when I am hungry. i have also been known to pack homemade cookies in my purse and secretly hand them out to people in between meetings.

    I pack a FULL OUT lunch for my kids, this is b/c we are usually there early and stay late (Dad in bishopric, live 15 mins. from church), and they eat it throughout Sacrament Meeting (after the Sacrament), and then more after the 2 hours primary block. Healthy sandwich, fruits and veggies, healthy crackers. never candy and cookies.

    I think food for my kids (esp. 2 year old) is essential to get through church. I also think food is essential for ME to get through church.

    As a kid I loved when we got treats, It made me look forward to class.

    That being said, I get the allergy situation and lots of sugar situation. That would be a concern if it was happening over and over.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 2/16/2008 05:34:00 AM  

  • Thank you for your insight lisac.

    This issue is obviously more than just whether you choose to give your children food at church. Some of those who are commenting are missing the broader issue here.

    1. Leaders and teachers, with exception of nursery, should not be feeding children

    2. Treats should not interfere with gospel teaching

    3. Members of the church tend (in general and maybe just North America) to indulge in treats. But maybe it's just me who believes serving a chocolate buffet after a church meeting is indulging in treats

    I have a non member Dr. friend who has had the opportunity to treat several mormon patients. She asked me why do many live the word of wisdom and then disregard their own diets to the point of damaging their health?

    Here is a bit more "food for thought" or words from Brigham Young journal of discourse 8:13 August 5, 1860

    Our bodies are organized to derive enjoyment from their proper use. There is enjoyment in eating when you are hungry, and in resting when you are fatigued, to the extent the body rightly requires; but if appetite is so gratified that your body, when you wake, is tormented with a raging fever, where is the pleasure in eating so much of this or that delicious food? Satisfying the appetite brings to an end the pleasure of eating; and where food is partaken chiefly to gratify the pleasurable sensation derived from eating, disease is gendered, and true misery springs out of this unwise gratification. Some healthy, strong-constitutioned persons can eat large quantities of food with apparent impunity; but, in so doing, the tax they place upon their systems will ultimately bring disease and death……
    Now, compare the greatest of earthly joys with the joys you receive in believing in Jesus Christ and obeying the Gospel he has delivered to the children of men. It is sweeter than the honeycomb; and to those who live according to it, it gives constant joy-a lasting feast, not merely for an hour or a day, but for a whole life and throughout eternity. The appetite is always keen, and there is always plenty for it to feast upon. This is my experience. The revelations of the Lord Jesus Christ are sweeter than honey or the honey comb. We can eat, and continue to eat; drink, and continue to drink. Is there durable satisfaction? Yes. I am in the height of my enjoyment. All the pleasure and all the joy that can be bestowed upon a finite being is in the Gospel of salvation, through the Spirit of revelation upon the creature-upon the Saint of God-old or young, male or female. Not that this comparison fully conveys the idea; for the language of mortals fails to fully portray the joys of the Gospel of life everlasting

    posted by Anonymous Author of this post at 2/16/2008 07:09:00 AM  

  • I honestly don't have a problem with it. I haven't ever been in a ward where it seemed to be in excess. I have young children and I bring a slew of snacks to get through Sacrament Meeting. A lot of people probably don't agree with my approach - but it works for us. I am often on my own with my girls on Sundays because of DH's schedule and I do what it takes to get through the meeting. :)

    I don't mind if my child gets treats every week. We don't have a huge amount of treats at home, I understand that teachers use them as a behavior management bribe - and while I don't use food to enforce things at home I also don't have ten 6 year olds that I'm trying to keep still and listening.

    That's just my 2 cents!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/16/2008 10:33:00 AM  

  • Wow. What a topic. I have always said, and agree with cheryl...moderation in all things!I have always thought that all our church events revolve around food WAY to much. There are refreshments after every activity! I think we are obsessive as members about food. I think if we teach our children about moderation and stop focusing on food so much, they wont expect a treat every Sunday. But yes, if they are hungrey a small snack doesnt hurt either. I really do think the issue is bigger then just bringing snacks to primary. We are obsessive about food in our church. I loved the last quote that was given and really believe that we need to stop focusing all our activities, lessons, and meetings around sugar.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/16/2008 11:04:00 AM  

  • But I think the bigger question here is this: Why are there so many anonymous people on this post?! Don't you guys have names? And if not, couldn't you make one up? It's so hard to keep track of all of you --I'm not sure if it's several people or just one person. I wish I was smarter and could figure it out, but I just can't seem to do it.
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 2/16/2008 11:26:00 AM  

  • I am somewhat new to blogging and sorry I did not name my comments.

    Mine are as follows:
    2/14: 12:56, 1:35, 1:56, 2:34, 2:47 8:26, 9:07, and 9:22

    The only intention in remaining anoymous on this post is to protect the identity of those with whom I serve.

    This is in no way a personal attack on individuals but on tradition.
    posted by Anonymous Author of this post at 2/16/2008 11:57:00 AM  

  • I wonder....

    Do you pack snacks everytime you are taking your kids someplace? I don't have kids, so I just don't have any experience there. Would the kids be able to go 3 hours in a different situation without food?

    At school, we have a "balanced day" schedule. It goes like this: Start school and work for 100 minutes, recess & snack, work for 100 minutes, recess and lunch, work for 100 minutes and go home. My students are usually hungry at the end of the day and they all eat some school breakfast before we get started. I guess they are eating about every hour and a half. Food we serve them is always healthy, but they bring the most horrid garbage from home. I am going to have to start buying more snacky food when the adoption finally goes through!
    posted by Anonymous LisaC at 2/16/2008 12:53:00 PM  

  • lisac, I almost always have snacks. They help me get through subway rides, car rides, church, whatever it is. They are usually healthy and my children also eat healthy...a lot of low calorie raw fruits and vegetables, no red meat, all whole grains if possible...so they are not overeating nor are they overweight.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 2/16/2008 06:47:00 PM  

  • I'm 14 and in the Young Women's now, and I can tell you that I HATE the constant flow of treats in our ward, because it feels like that all the youth around me care about is food. We get candy bars practically every week, the bishop comes around with tins full of cookies, and the young adults are given cookies, sub sandwiches, and such. I feel like it distracts from what should be going on in church. I'm not opposed to treats every once in awhile, like the occasional lesson where we get a starburst for contributing to the lesson, but I am opposed to extreme overconsumption. We get so many treats from church and mutual that our budget is already practically spent. We will have no money left after youth conference, and I know that all of the rest of the youth will spend all of their time complaining about a lack of food. I think we just need to be grateful for church at all.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/16/2008 09:55:00 PM  

  • There should not be sugary snacks. Period. Above nursery there should not be snacks at all. In our ward, at least for a while, we managed to keep food out of Primary but there it was again in YM/YW. Grr. As a teacher, I never motivate with food. But I can't teach every class, so I just grit my teeth and smile when my kids get them from other teachers. But I don't like it.
    posted by Blogger jeans at 2/17/2008 01:21:00 PM  

  • whoa. whoa. hold on a moment. The real questions is .. did I read that someone (lisac at 2/15/2008 05:38:00 PM) has a 2-hour ward meeting bloc instead of 3?!?
    posted by Blogger tamrobot at 2/18/2008 08:51:00 AM  

  • I too am wondering about the 2 hour block. Where is that happening?

    We have church from 11 am-2 pm. I feed my family a healthy breakfast, oatmeal or veggie omelets and fruit. We have to leave for church early, and though they're not hungry for lunch yet, I try to get them to eat some small healthy snack before we leave. My older kids are fine during most of church, my youngest child will often need a small (dry cheerios or fruit leather) snack.

    I teach Primary (and have for many years, but in different wards) during the third hour. They tell us not to bring snacks. I am torn about this. I have a child (my youngest) with severe food allergies. I let his teachers know about his specific food allergies and so far, they have brought occasional snacks and asked me each time if the snacks were appropriate for him. They are awesome. Our primary president wants to ban all snacks.

    But I am hypoglycemic and by the third hour I darn near pass out. (It's not a pretty show when it happens.) If this occurs, (it's not a weekly event, but my healthy diet and medication do NOT eliminate it completely) it happens just as I am to start teaching class. My husband team teaches with me, but as it stands, men are not supposed to be left alone in a class (even if I need to run to the bathroom and eat string cheese and apples to keep from fainting). So for now, I bring string cheese, carrot sticks or apple slices to share with my class (6 year olds). I figure if the presidency doesn't like it, they can find another teacher. I hope my attitude is not offensive, but that's just how I feel.
    posted by Blogger Rynell at 2/18/2008 12:47:00 PM  

  • We brought cupcakes everytime someone in the YW program had a birthday. It was a good time, and we took all the extras to the bishopric. way to spread the fun as it were.
    But for Fear Factor night the only treat they got was applesauce with mealworms in it. We do things weird out here in farm country.
    Our old bishop gave out candy if kids could answer a church related question or recite an article of faith, but gave nothing on fast sunday. In our new ward nobody brings anything ever, and our RS meeting are all about healthy meals made from food storage items. I told ya, farm country. A lot of this is clearly regional.
    All in all, I don't mind if my kids get a treat at church. I would prefer nothing loaded with sugar. I would be upset if I had specifically asked that my child be skipped with the treats, but I personally wouldn't want to try and explain to my 3 year old why he's the only one left out.
    Heck, my oldest son gets more crap as after game snacks with sports than he ever did at church.
    I was once asked why Mormons have so many kids. My stock answer to this is always the same...We don't smoke, don't drink alcohol or coffee, don't use drugs. The only vices we have left are food and sex, so you see a billion kids running around with fat parents!
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 2/18/2008 10:10:00 PM  

  • tamrobot, my in laws go for 2.5 hours in AZ because of out of control populations of mormons and multiple wards sharing a building. LUCKY. BUT, they say that SS and RS/P is only like a 15 minute lesson, which is a shame I think...
    posted by Blogger Kage at 2/19/2008 06:27:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home