Well, yes. There’s the obvious concerns: candy is not nutritious, and giving candy runs counter to other nutritious food offered at school. But there are other issues to think about as well. Have you ever eaten something just because its being offered, despite the fact that you weren’t really hungry? Giving candy rewards reinforces the idea that eating isn’t a result of how hungry you feel but whether or not food is available. Setting up this relationship doesn’t help children listen to their hunger cues when food is available. This was something I struggled with for a very long time. I now eat when I’m hungry, not when food is available or when the clock says it’s mealtime.
In fact, some health organizations (American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics) agree that using food as reward is something they don’t support. Read more at http://kyhealthykids.com/2013/02/13/food-as-reward-love-and-valentines-day/
There are many no cost or low cost rewards that schools can use. You can find ideas at https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/foodrewards_290201_7.pdf
Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, firstname.lastname@example.org, 573-882-1933