Teacher Labelled as “Racist” For Complaining About Student’s Lunch Due To It’s “Unpleasant Odor”

One Reddit user questioned whether her actions were justified when her son’s teacher disapproved of the lunches she prepared for him.

The Unpleasant Odor

teacher writing and using laptop

The mother of a five-year-old boy attending preschool received a call from the child’s teacher, complaining that the lunches she gave her son were inappropriate and had an “unpleasant odor.”

The mother said: “She made absolutely no effort to sound kind when she, in an extremely rude and annoyed tone, told me to stop packing my son such ‘disgusting and inappropriate’ lunches.”

Choose a Different Lunch

stressed teacher

The teacher expressed concern that these lunches were “distracting” other students.

The mother argued back, stating that although the lunches were not all-around healthy, it was her son’s preferences that mattered.

What Was in The Korean Lunch

happy asian family

According to the mother, a typical lunch consisted of small celery sticks with blue cheese and goat cheese, kimchi and spam, and a few spicy Doritos marinated in Sriracha. As a Korean family, they adore cooking this dish.

The Lunches Are No Longer Welcome

sending email on computer

The teacher replied by sending an email saying that the mother’s response was “unacceptable” and that her son’s lunches were no longer welcome in school.

The mother is now uncertain about how to proceed as she wants to maintain a healthy relationship with her son’s teachers. She wonders if she is in the wrong for arguing with the teacher about her son’s lunch.

Reactions from Social Media

asian boy eating sandwich

An avalanche of support flooded social media, affirming that the mother did nothing wrong.

One user received over 59,000 ‘upvotes’ for her comment: “Report her to the principal. Her comments regarding your son’s food are ‘disgusting’ and ‘have an unpleasant tone,’ aka cough cough racist tone. She’s too inappropriate to be teaching at the school any longer.”

Commenters Believed it Was Racism

asian eating food

“Go to the principal. It’s blatant racism,” another person said, which was met with a wave of support from other commenters who showed their agreement through upvotes. “If they don’t do anything. Go to the press.”

Commenters Admitted Their Shame

korean street food

One person said: “A lot of second-generation immigrants are ashamed to bring their food in public because of people like this teacher, who clearly is very intolerant. Asian food is not inappropriate; she is.”

Another person who was a third-generation admitted no longer feeling comfortable bringing their snacks to school. “…brought seaweed as a snack in 3rd grade, Virginia; never did that again.” They admitted to still eating seaweed as a snack “in the privacy of my own home.”

Others Admitted They Wouldn’t Do It

asian food

“I’m a first-generation Vietnamese,” another person responded. “Immigrated when I was a kid, and I wouldn’t ever bring something pungent to school for lunch. Even I have to admit some of our foods have a pretty strong aroma; fish sauce doesn’t smell particularly appealing, it is fermented fish, after all, but damn, it is good.”

The Smell is an Issue

asian boy shocked

Some commenters admitted that the smell of certain foods could be unappealing to some people, and this can be especially true for children who aren’t familiar with them.

“I keep wondering how many of these people have actually kept kimchi in the fridge. It’s delicious but really pungent,” one user said, receiving 773 upvotes. “…That said, there’s a right and a wrong way to address it, and this was absolutely devoid of cultural sensitivity, which is why it’s racist.”

The Smell is an Issue

child rebelling

Another person agreed: “I feel like the teacher was just racist in the way she spoke about their lunch and that the smell wasn’t the only problem she had with it.”

One Mother Could Relate

kindergarten teacher

One mother had experienced a similar situation with both of her children’s teachers in the past. When her son was in preschool, the teacher asked her not to send blueberries for lunch as he would put them in his mouth and shoot them out “like a machine gun.”

One Mother Could Relate

shutterstock 1724270989

For her daughter in grade 1, the teacher commented that bento characters were cute, but she kept playing with them instead of finishing her lunch in time. She was missing out on recess and becoming irritable and hungry later in the day.

These types of comments seemed appropriate according to the mother; however, she did not feel that this particular teacher had any right to criticize her son’s lunch in such a way.

Diversity and Kindness Should Be Taught in Schools

korean traditional

This incident made one particular educator on the platform very sad, as it was a missed opportunity to teach students about self-confidence, diversity, and kindness.

Every year this teacher reads “Carla’s Sandwich” with her class, demonstrating how enjoying different food can bring people together.

Diversity and Kindness Should Be Taught in Schools

arabic woman

During this lesson, a brunch was held where students could bring their favorite dishes and recipes. It was one of the most popular activities, with students and parents alike enjoying various dishes, including sandwiches, pizza, and traditional Indian and Korean food. Even children who typically avoided trying new foods often tried something they had not tasted before.

Diversity and Kindness Should Be Taught in Schools

students having food together

“This teacher missed a huge opportunity to show how the simple act of eating a meal can bring people together in beautiful ways,” the educator commented. “It hurts my heart that so many people have had terrible experiences eating what they enjoy because of ignorance.”

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This post called Is the Parent Wrong for Packing an Inappropriate Lunch for School was syndicated and produced by TPR Teaching. Our article has been inspired by Reddit and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of TPR Teaching.

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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