The fine line between enforcing the rules and being ridiculous

A note sent home from a Canadian day care saying that a mom had been charged $10 for a pack of Ritz crackers because her child's meal didn't have the required 2 grains. The note fully says "Meals that are provided to children (by either the center or the parent) are required to have: 1 milk, 1 meat, 2 grain, and 2 fruits/vegetables. According to licensing guidelines, the center is required to supplement lunches that contain anything less than this. Today you were missing Grain -1. Had meat, potatoes, mlk, carrots, organge. Your account will be charged $10.00. Motion: Parents will be charged $5 per child, per item missing, if the child's lunch is not a balanced meal according to the Canadian Food Guide effective April 17/12. Carried.

The mother, Kristen Bartkiw from Manitoba, sent homemade roast beef, potatoes, milk, carrots, and an orange for her kids’ lunch that day. Because the lunch was missing its second grain, the school gave her kids Ritz crackers to ‘supplement’ the meal and she was subsequently charged $10 ($5 per kid).

Now the price sounds ridiculous for a pack of crackers, but I understand setting it high like that to encourage parents to pay close attention and make sure they’re sending a fully balanced meal. And hey, if they don’t want to go through that effort, I’m sure the school provides a balanced lunch they can choose to buy instead.

The part I find ridiculous is that a pack of crackers doesn’t logically make this meal that much better for the kids. I read in one article that quoted the school worker (or maybe it was a daycare worker?) as saying that she could send microwave Kraft dinner with them every day and it would count as the grain.

I know they’re just enforcing the rules and if they let one bit slide, then it opens it up to a lot of interpretation and conflict….. but come on. Is it really worth their time to go around to every meal and count to make sure each kid has the right number of each type of food? And even if they somehow have nothing better to do, this is no way guarantees the kids will even EAT those foods, so what’s the point?

If I were in this boat, I would probably just toss an extra pack of crackers into the bag every day and be done with it. I don’t think having two grains is nutritionally better for them and would rather add more veggies or fruits if the kids would eat them. I had a hard enough time making sure the bento boxes I used to make had all the right proportions as it was….but to try to make sure I was fitting the school’s guidelines, too, by having separate grains instead of a single, larger portion of one? Ugh.

Saltine cracker chocolate toffee candy – Quick, cheap, and delicious

You know when you see a recipe a few times and it looks good, but eh, doesn’t sound like it’d be as good as the creator seems to make it out?

And so you don’t make it, you don’t make it, you don’t make it, and then one day, you say “What the heck? Why not? I’ll try it.” and it turns out to be so awesome that you’re kicking yourself for not making it sooner?

Yep, that’s what this is like.

I’d seen it a few times, it looked cool, but meh, I’m not a huge toffee fan and I don’t make candy, and well, come on, crackers?? Eh.

But it’s delicious and sooooo easy to make.

And well, it’s awfully cheap, too. These are pictures from the third or fourth time I’d made it and you can see that I just took the chocolate scraps from almost empty bags of various kinds of chocolate. Normally I’d only use chocolate chips, but here, I even used unsweetened baking chips and chocolate chunks. It’s sweet enough overall that I didn’t even notice a difference.

I actually don’t know what exact recipe I used. After the first time, I kinda eyeballed it each time and went from there. Oops. But this one looks pretty close to where it likely started:

Saltine Toffee

1 1/2 sleeves saltine crackers (sprinkle what ever doesn’t fit in the pan on top after)
1 – cup butter
1 – cup light brown sugar
1 – 12 oz package chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay crackers in a flat layer in a 9×13 pan. Melt butter and sugar together and bring to a full boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Pour over crackers and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle on chocolate bits of whatever you prefer, and spread with a spatula. Crumble some crushed saltines over the top, or you can even use chopped nuts if that’s your thing.

Mommy’s Kitchen has some great step-by-step pictures, too, if you’re the type who likes to see what to expect every step of the way.

And really, the crackers are a huge surprise when it comes to the success. They soak up the sugar mixture nicely, leaving you with a slightly crispy, salty base covered in chocolate. If you want a more candy-like texture, let them cool and break into randomly sized pieces.

Good luck waiting that long, though. The only reason I got pictures of them like that is because it was the second batch of the day. :P