Real Red Food Valentines Day Party for Elementary Students

In addition to last week’s post about elementary school students who do actually like vegetables, here is another real food vegetable success story about elementary school students.

Real Red Food Valentines Day Party
Angelle Batten at NourishMD created a fun way to celebrate valentines day without copious amounts of sugar and artificial food colorings. And the the kids had fun. She started by giving a 45 minute lesson to 2nd graders about real food, what real food does for their body as well as talking about what chemical food colorings do their body. Then she has kids brainstorm about red food that is naturally colored; kids volunteered to bring in some real red food for the valentines day party.

For more details see Angelle’s article describing the real red food valentines day party.

What problems do artificial food dyes cause?
According to Dr Susan Rubin of Two Angry Moms, artificial food colorings like those found in gatorade, fruit snacks and bright red and pink iced cookies are dangerous for learning students in the following way:

“…….the research on artificial food colors and additives published in the September 2007 issue of Lancet. This double blind study spelled out the fact that increased levels of hyperactivity are associated with the development of educational difficulties, especially in relation to reading, therefore adverse effects could affect a child’s ability to benefit from schooling.”

Dye Free School Days
I would be delighted if my child’s school day could be chemical dye free, each and every day. Unfortunately teachers like to hand out candy as rewards and parents send in brightly colored cupcakes for birthday celebrations. That’s too many school days where a kid’s learning brains is bombarded with neurotoxins as they attempt to learn to read and write. In the comment section of this The Lunch Tray post, Jane Hersey of the Feingold Association says of the icing on store bought cupcakes and the “safe” amount used in food safety studies:

“One of the things we hope to share with Dr. Stevenson and other researchers is the fact that the studies only used a fraction of the amount of dye a child typically eats in a day. When you see those cupcakes at the bakery section of Wal Mart or Food Lion, and look at the vibrant colors in the frosting, many have more than 300 mg of food dye in them, and the typical amount in the studies was 27 mg.”

The FDA is holding hearings in March to discuss the dangers of chemicals food additives. I don’t suspect this will create a ban on food colorings as some countries have done, but perhaps they’ll be stories in the media and more awareness of the connections between behavior and learning disorders and food dyes will come of it. I can only hope that parents, teachers and administrators come to understand that artificial food dyes, while they may not impact some kids a lot, make it impossible for others to focus, concentrate and learn, causing a problem for the entire class.

Advocate for a dye free party for your child’s class
Valentines day is one month away. This is the perfect time to reach out to your child’s teacher and see if this type of party is feasible for your child’s class. Don’t let not being a health or nutrition professional get in the way of recommending a party like this. You don’t need to have a degree to share with kids the difference between real food and artificially flavored and colored food. The lesson could be as simple as real vs. artificial without going too deep.

5 thoughts on “Real Red Food Valentines Day Party for Elementary Students

  1. Thank you for the article and pointing how important that it is to avoid these artificial dyes.

    Jane's last name is Hersey. She is the National Director of the Feingold Association and author of Why Can't My Child Behave?. Take a look at the website and videos. There's a wealth of information at

  2. Jenna, I put this on Facebook, and I'm hoping some of my new FB friends from school (teachers, administrators) will take note. Thanks for sharing this — you know it's right up my alley!

  3. talked to PK team member about real red food party for vday. she said they'd do it but keep “red hots” on the menu for the “traditional” folks who think candy have to be a part of vday party. guess i'll have to live with a half win.

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