April 14, 2015
DANVILLE, Ill. – At Danville High School, birthday cupcakes and pizza may soon go the way of chalkboards and slide rulers.
District officials have worked in recent years to implement restrictions on calories, fat, sodium, sugar, whole wheat and other aspects of school lunches imposed on schools by Michelle Obama’s Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act.
Now, they’re scrambling to comply with the same restrictions that went into effect this year for other food sold at school, like vending machine fare and treats sold at student fundraisers, The News-Gazette reports.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermilion County, for example, raised $150 at Danville High School so far this year by selling slices of Little Caesars pizza to students after school. The money goes to provide field trips and activities for middle and high school students.
Since the federal regulations outlawed all “unhealthy” foods sold at school, it will likely be their last pizza fundraiser.
Danville food service director Greg Lazzell told the news site he plans to present changes to the district’s food policies that will eliminate “unhealthy” snacks that are sold in schools. Lazzell said he will also recommend taking the restrictions an unnecessary step further by banning sugary or high calorie foods brought in by parents for special celebrations, as well.
Lazzell’s proposal, which he will present to school board members Wednesday, would prohibit parents from bringing in home-made goodies like birthday cupcakes and cookies, and allow for only store-bought, pre-packaged treats.
“That’s from a sanitation standpoint and a food allergy standpoint,” Lazzell said.
A committee initially discussed a ban on all celebratory foods, but opted to recommend a gradual transition to food-free classroom parties instead. Currently, fundraisers with “unhealthy” snacks are limited to 36 days per school year, but Lazzell wants to reduce that number to 18 days next year, and nine the year after, the News-Gazette reports.
The changes would be implemented starting next school year, if approved by the school board, and the full ban on food in the classroom would go into effect in 2016-17.
“The days of selling candy bars will essentially be gone,” Lazzell said, but packaged, prepare-at-home foods like cookie dough and frozen Beef House rolls will still be allowed because they’re typically not consumed at school.
School administration manager Greg Wagers told the news site many clubs and student groups depend on sales from candy, doughnuts, pizza, chips and other “unhealthy” foods for their operations.
“Most of them sell candy bars or things like Skittles,” Wagers told the News-Gazette, because those foods are “the types of things you can sell for a dollar and make a 50 percent profit on.
“They really rely on those sales to buy things that are outside the school’s budget,” he said.
If Lazzell’s proposal is approved, Danville High School will join several others that have taken the federal regulations to another level to ban celebratory treats in classrooms.
The Derry Township School District near Hershey, Pennsylvania last fall moved to ban birthday cupcakes and other snacks brought in by parents because officials are “trying to teach healthy eating,” superintendent Joseph McFarland told the Patriot-News.
Instead, McFarland and others think students should celebrate their special day with pencils, stickers and “silly socks.”
[Last edited Apr 16, 2015 12:54:26]