A Canadian school fined the mother of two of its students for giving them “unbalanced” beef and vegetable dinner leftovers for lunch. The missing ingredient? Ritz crackers.

Kristen Bartkiw, of Manitoba, packed leftover roast beef, potatoes, carrots, milk, and oranges for her two kids, Natalie and Logan, to eat at their daycare. What looked like a seemingly healthy, nutritious homemade meal was ruled “unfit” by daycare providers because it didn’t meet the standards of the nutritional bill. Their reason: There were no grains.

“They have certain legislation that they have in place where you have to follow these food groups, but it doesn’t matter how processed the foods are or if they’re junk food … so Ritz crackers count as a grain,” Bartkiw told Metro News.

According to the Canada Food Guide, a nutritious meal must be provided by daycares taking care of children for six or more hours a day. Each lunch must contain one milk, one meat, one grain, and two fruits or vegetables that adhere to the country’s recommended food servings. Although the kids’ lunches contained potatoes, which are high in carbohydrates, the Canada Food Guide doesn’t consider them grains. However, bread, bagels, flat breads, cooked rice, bulgur, quinoa, cereal, cooked pasta, and couscous fall into that category.

The Manitoba daycare provided Bartkiw’s children with what they thought would have been a better alternative: Ritz crackers. Lisa Ruscica, a nutrition expert, believes there are many other grains the daycare could have given the kids besides crackers. “Whole grain brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, even a slice of whole wheat bread would have been a better alternative than a couple of Ritz crackers,” Ruscica told CTV News.

Ritz crackers contain high sodium and calories with five crackers amounting to 80 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, and 150 milligrams (mg) of sodium. In Canada, it's recommended that children have a total sodium intake of 1,200 milligrams per day. By comparison, U.S. recommendations call for children 2 to 3 years of age to have 1,000 mg to 1,500 mg, and 4- to 8-year-olds to have anywhere between 1,200 mg to 1,900 mg.

Bartkiw stills remains confused more than angry, as she recalls the incident that happened over a year ago but just received media attention by Weighty Matters, a nutrition blog run by Yoni Feedhoff, an obesity medicine doctor.

“I phoned the daycare worker and said 'you know, potatoes, surely I can get away with this,' and they didn’t actually end up charging me the $10,” she told Weight Matters.

The Manitoba mom felt there was a disconnect between what was healthy for kids to eat and legislation encouraging nutritious meals. However, since the incident, Bartkiw reports Manitoba has moved to a hot lunch program in daycares to solve the problem of parents flustering over “balanced” versus “unbalanced” lunches to give to their kids.

“It was just frustrating that we have to keep fighting this battle when you’re sending your kids perfectly good food but it doesn’t meet this really specific, kind of nit-picky requirements,” Bartkiw told CTV News. “I think that I’m doing everything by the books and it was like, ‘Oh come on, seriously?’”

In the U.S., one-third of school districts report their current kitchen equipment makes it difficult to serve healthier foods to kids, according to the Kids’ Safe Healthful Foods Project. Schools that face equipment challenges resort to manually chopping or slicing fruits and vegetables to effectively serve healthy meals and meet nutrition standards. Balanced meals for kids include a mix of food groups, such as grains, fruits, vegetables, meat or protein, and some dairy foods.

For tips on how to pack a well-balanced, nutritious meal for your child, click here.