Sandwiches for lunch = child abuse?

I got a call today from my son while at work (he at school). His teacher was forbidding him from eating the lunch that we packed him, and telling him he had to eat what the other kids were eating, the usual biandong type fare: white rice, veggies and some unidentifiable meat.

Our son spent the first half of his life in Canada. Both of us parents are Canadian. He eats local food just fine, but is more accustomed to eating more western style food. Often he finds the pork blood, chicken’s feet, and above mentioned unidentifiable meat rather distasteful, and refuses to eat it. Rather than have our kid eat white rice day in and day out (which is what he had taken to doing), we decided to pack him a lunch. We signed a form last year that stated our wishes, and we never heard another whisper.

This teacher is the same teacher as last year. When I asked my buxiban manager about this issue, she said “yes, many Taiwanese feel that for children to eat sandwiches for lunch is child abuse, and that they need to eat rice, veggies etc.”

Child abuse? This woman’s English is very very good, (she’s a year away from an MA in linguistics) so I don’t think this was a lost in translation moment. She said child abuse.

I said, “these same Taiwanese who send their kids to school with chocolate cake and cola for breakfast? Who eat white bread with chocolate spread for snack? These ones think that what we are doing is ABUSING OUR CHILD???”

What the heck? I grew up on oatmeal in the morning and a good sandwich with snacks for lunch, and this is what I’m providing my son.

Someone please give me some perspective on this, and maybe some suggestions as to how to handle this. We have never really been able to make a connection with this teacher, and while I feel that perhaps she is trying to do what she thinks is right, this borders on ‘bullying the foreigner’ in my view.


That’s rubbish. Ask this “teacher” why if many Taiwanese consider sandwiches a form of child abuse why so many bring their children to McDonalds and Subway.

I would take my kid as far away from that sort of person as I could. There is obviously something seriously wrong with someone who comes out with nonsense like that.

I wouldn’t even begin to get into a debate over this. I would be worried your kid is being singled out for special treatment. I used to teach kindergarten and older kids and many parents packed “non-Taiwanese” food for their kids. As long as the kid is behaving and eating his meal in the manner he is supposed to, it does not matter what the content of the meal actually is. As his parents, you are quite within your rights to choose your child’s meal. If that is against the school’s rules, then find another school.

I said, “these same Taiwanese who send their kids to school with chocolate cake and cola for breakfast? Who eat white bread with chocolate spread for snack? These ones think that what we are doing is ABUSING OUR CHILD???”

Amen to that brother. I have a student who’s mother buys him McDonald’s EVERY morning. (lord have mercy) I say stick to your guns. Don’t let them try to ‘perseude’(sp) about what YOU should feed your child. Their job is to educate your child, not parent. If you and your wife have agreed to what you will feed your child, then it’s nobody’s else’s business. And remind them that your money puts FOOD on their tables next time they wanna say child abuse. :s :wink:

I think a sandwich is fine and the teacher need a sit down chat.

I made my son a tunafish/corn/lettuce sandy the other day and felt quite good about it.

“Child abuse?”


It’s too bad they serve the same crap everyday at your boy’s school, and commend you and your wife for ensuring that the boy gets his nutrishuns.

Stay away from the comparisons. IMHO, they won’t get it.



My two girls take their peanut-butter sandwiches to local elementary school. They tried the school lunchboxes but complained about the excess offal :astonished: and chili :fume:

They have not had any problems despite being the only two ‘anglo’ kids in a school of 1300. Abuse?? We don’t let them play unsupervised in the traffic, we don’t allow them to have their teeth to rot out of their heads, we don’t allow them to travel in a car without a seatbelt etc.

This teacher has a misguided desire to make your son ‘assimilate’, maybe other parents have said something to the teacher about your son having a perceived ‘special’ status or something. Doesn’t make sense to me. Tell the teacher your son has an allergy to white rice, intestines and ‘la’!

I do get the “Why you big nose couple send children to Chinese school?” question now and then and I confuse them further by saying “ting bu dong” - the missus is multi-lingual. I do feel that one or two parents (possibly teachers too) are not 100% happy with our presence.

I’m sorry that your son is experiencing this harrassment.

During my time teaching here, a few of my students had lunches brought from home for various reasons (vegetarian, allergy, very picky eater, special treat). Our school also served sandwiches or school-made hamburgers on occasion. I can’t remember having complaints from either the school or the parents about home-made lunches or sandwiches.

Like jdsmith, I don’t think it will help much to point out what other parents do, your point will be lost and it won’t help you argue why it is important to you that your son can have sandwiches or other food you choose to serve him at lunchtime.

Pay attention to the manager’s words. She’s not saying that the child is being abused, she’s saying that MANY Taiwanese think that replacing the lunch with sandwiches is child abuse (read: bad for the child). It’s definately not child abuse, but maybe the teachers think that your son gets no proper food whatsoever - they might think that your son is eating only snacks and fast food at home like many Taiwanese children and they’re just worried.

Sit down with the teacher and tell her what you told us - that your son eats healthy food at home and there is no need to worry. I’m sure you can work it out.

Maybe it’s because the common perception here is that a sandwich is something that you can only buy from 7-11 or a greasy breakfast shop. Ingredients: 3 pieces (while else is SAN in the word) of dreary bleached bread; greasy tasteless margarine; dry see-thru ham; month-old processed cheese, etc, etc.

I get the same kind of reactions from my in-laws sometimes. My son loves tuna, lettuce and tomato sandwiches on whole wheat, lightly toasted, with real mayo. They can’t understand that he’s getting a pretty good sampling of quite a few food groups in one sandwich.

Same goes for hamburgers, some of the parents of my kids that I teach have asked if I go to Mcdonalds often (I suppose they think my beer belly comes from Big Macs). I tell them no, only once in a while for the fries. I make a killer hamburger, and when I tell this to them, they can’t believe that I can buy all the materials fresh from a veggie market and a good supermarket.

Also, I think there is a mistaken belief in modern Chinese culture that if you don’t eat dry, white rice with a few soggy, overcooked vegetables, some tasteless mystery meat, then you are not eating “right”. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some great rice and meat/veggie dishes out there, but one seldom finds it from the kitchen of a kindie or a biandong joint.

I wouldn’t worry much what they think. They won’t get it much even if you tried. As for the child abuse comment, that is indeed a little over the top. Some well chosen words might be in order about how it is only your God given right to feed your kids in the best way you know. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if the root of this comment came from the possibility that one of your child’s classmates said something to their parents about how he has to eat boring old white rice, while another kid in the class gets to eat these great sandwiches. Parents mention something to the teacher, and bob’s your uncle…

I hope you work it out.
No worries. Just keep on keepin’ on.


When you discuss matters with the teacher you could maybe ask if they have had any problems with your kid eating his own lunch.
I have had the following cases at two different schools:

The child would happily eat his provided snack, but every now and then throw a tantrum when he thought the school’s snack was nicer. However, if we allowed him to eat the school lunch that would mean having to throw away his own food.

Other kids were upset because one of the boys had a special diet. (this one was easily explained to them as the boy had a serious permanent stomach problem) I even had to punish some of the kids for trying to take his food though.

One mother sent her daughter to school with an absolutely vile vitamin concoction every day…at least 500ml of the stuff. If the drink wasn’t finished during the day, she would call and complain. However, the child hated the drink and we basically had to force her to drink the stuff until I secretly started dumping lots of it while the kid wasn’t looking. (for heaven’s sake, she almost never joined any fun activities because the Taiwanese teachers would try to take away game time to force her to drink).

Not saying any of these kinds of things apply, but there might be a reason why they’re suddenly doing this after complying for one year.

Sit down with the teacher and tell her what you told us - that your son eats healthy food at home and there is no need to worry. I’m sure you can work it out.[/quote]

And if this doesn’t work you can always explain this:


time to make the connection willingly or unwillingly. give me the form and let me sign it but don’t tell me what to feed my kid. my lord I can only imagine what would happen if the situation were reversed back in new york.

Well it must be noted that my manager, not my son’s teacher actually used the term ‘child abuse.’

My son’s sandwiches are on wholewheat, seedy bread and are usually of the (organic) peanut butter and jam type. We send him with carrot sticks, fruit or other forms of roughage.

I think some of you are right in that there’s been a complaint from somewhere, as he has been attending this school since last year (Chinese new year) without an issue.

I got an email from the teacher last night, and one of the things she was trying to pull was “we don’t have a kitchen in our school, so we contract with another school. If your son is not eating the food provided, then it’s against [a breach of?] the contract.” :astonished:

Honestly I think this is the silliest possible issue for the teacher to have. The fact that it defies most forms of logic says to me that it’s somehow more about face, or something, than nutrition.

I got an email from the teacher last night, and one of the things she was trying to pull was “we don’t have a kitchen in our school, so we contract with another school. If your son is not eating the food provided, then it’s against [a breach of?] the contract.” :astonished:

Now this sounds more like the school is trying to persuede you to join the lunch program because it could be benificial for them in a financial way.

The school or teacher might be getting kick backs from the lunchbox vendor, a very common practice.

Very well said, they have some kickback scheme for sure … :s

Even I wouldn’t eat the greasy drek they serve … but that’s just me … :laughing:

Oh of course! Now I get it! Bingo! (I have ignored my own advice to noobs: If there is something odd going on in Taiwan you don’t understand, it is because of cost-cutting or money-making)

Well done fellows! The kindergarten I used to teach at did a nice line in selling goat’s milk to the kids. A right money-earner. The boss was a nice chap though, and spent it on snacks and coffees for the teachers rather than stick it in his own pocket which he could easily have done.

Mad isn’t it though what bullshit people will make up? (“Child abuse” - Jesus!) If they’d just asked you for the lost profit on your kid’s lunch I bet you’d have gone “OK”.

I have attended and taught at a number of Elementary Schools in Taipei. I have yet to see a school that requires all students to buy a “school” lunch, i.e., a lunch box or catered meal provided by some unnamed company. I have seen students bring all kinds of food to school, some unhealthy and some not. I think something is fishy at your child’s school. What if your child has special dietary needs? Allergies? Now, I understand that a Kindergarten might be different, but… There are always exceptions. Anyway, whenever someone gives me grief about bringing my own food, I always explain that I have “special dietary needs”. It is a fancy way of saying that I am picky and I need to eat my own food.

Just tell them your kid is allergic to cooking oil and msg. As for the child abuse, I would just advise this teacher’s boss to be very very careful about what kind of allegations his or her staff are making.

Hmm…I hadn’t thought about that angle. Man, I’m just so naive when it comes to these things. I figure teachers should just concentrate on teaching, but I guess that’s too being simplistic. Kickbacks from lunchbox dealers? Aieeyo! :help:

I asked a Taiwanese friend about this situation. She thinks that you’re being given a hard time because you didn’t pay for the school lunch. She said that if you pay for the school lunch, you should be able to send your child to school with a packed lunch and not get any hassle. :loco: