We have boycotted Nestle for years, but wasn’t until this year that my 6 year-old son really paid much attention. The day after listening to my husband and I passionately discuss our displeasure at the Pan American Health Office of the World Health Organization accepting money from Nestle, Josh began picking through his Halloween candy stash, throwing out anything with the Nestle logo. For a 6 year-old that was a serious commitment!
Given that, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised on Monday night when he informed me in truly shocked tones that the hot cocoa his class was using was made by Nestle!
So the next morning I sent Josh to school with 60 packets of non-Nestle cocoa and a hand-written note that said:
“Our family participates in the Nestle boycott due to Nestlé’s predatory marketing in the 3rd world that leads to infant and child illness and death. When Josh came home from school yesterday he told me how dismayed he was to find that the hot cocoa used for kitchen work in his class was made by Nestle. Josh is especially aware of the impact Nestle has on the world as I am currently part of an effort to encourage the Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health Organization, to return money it accepted from Nestle. It is important to us to validate Josh’s concerns and teach him that his actions can make a difference, so he and I came to the decision to buy another brand of cocoa to replace the Nestle cocoa in the classroom. It is certainly up to you whether or not to use it, but I felt it was important for Josh to feel empowered to act on something he believes in. Thank you so much for your support! “
As I sent him off to school I was pretty convinced that move had forever marked me as the crazy mom, although my son told me the teachers had switched out the cocoa without comment. Then at 10PM that night I received this email from the school principal:
“Thank you for donating the hot chocolate and for bringing this company to my attention! The teachers shared your note with me and I admit I was not aware of the corporate world impact of the Nestle company. Two of our other teachers informed me of the information you shared with them during our recent picnic and I was shocked to discover that they even made formula! I was a La Leche League counselor for ten years and am fanatic about the importance of breast feeding for all children, especially those in third world countries.
I think it is great that Josh is aware of world issues. It is in these formative years that children learn to care not just about themselves and their immediate families, but the world community as well. And how important it is for everyone to speak up when they see something that is wrong! I will no longer order the Nestle brand for the cooking centers and really appreciate you bringing it to my attention. If it is OK with you, I would like to talk to the class about why we changed the brand and to announce to the class that Josh and his family brought it to my attention. I think it would be a great lesson for all the children to see that they can be powerful and create changes and it would be nice for Josh to know that his concerns have been heard and he made an important impact!”
On Friday the principal assembled much of the school to talk about why they would no longer buy Nestle products. When she called on Josh, my little first grader stood up and told it like it is.
I am teary-eyed as I finish this post. I never would have expected such an overwhelmingly positive response. Not only did I find an ally and fellow breastfeeding advocate in this wonderful principal, but because my 6 year-old was brave enough to speak up and his teachers and principal cared enough to listen, Josh educated and changed his community.
His school is now part of the Nestle Boycott.
Best for Babes’ short suggested resource & reading list:
- Phdinparenting: Why I Protest Nestle’s Unethical Business Practices
- Best for Babes: What is the WHO-Code?
- Baby Milk Action www.babymilkaction.org
- International Baby Food Action Network www.ibfan.org
- National Alliance of Breastfeeding Advocacy www.naba-breastfeeding.org