I received a flyer from my daughters’ school outlining the nutritional guidelines for students. In short, the cookies-cupcakes-popsicle-corn chip-jug o’ juice-gummy snack celebration days are over. Wipe that smudge of chocolate off your face, moms and dads. You’re out of compliance.
I wish I had read these rules before I agreed to be the kindergarten homeroom chairperson in charge of — yep…you guessed it — classroom parties.
Homemade Rice Krispie treats? Blondies and brownies made from scratch? Little cups of vanilla ice cream served with a wooden tongue depressor-type of spoon? Ahhhhh-bsolutely not! A pizza party for the class that sold the most cookie dough in this fall’s fundraiser? Fuggedaboutit! A mini-pack of M&Ms pulled out of the good behavior treasure box? That’s a no-no. Grandma Brown’s famous peanut butter fudge? Grandpa Brown’s banana nut bread? Are you crazy? You could kill a child!
From what I understand, the nutritional guidelines have been in effect for years, but parents still aren’t paying attention: Nothing, absolutely nothing, can be delivered to a classroom that hasn’t been produced, packaged and labeled from a grocery store. Ingredient and caloric breakdown labels must be on the product to protect children with food allergies and other digestive sensitivities (such as whatever was smeared on your kitchen counter when you cut up that raw, whole chicken for dinner last night).
As an over-protective mother of two, I appreciate that someone is watching over my kids. As a parent-volunteer, I’m perplexed. Now what are we supposed to do?
The West Virginia Department of Education’s Standards For School Nutrition (Policy 4321.1) specifies key features of the plan, which dedicates an entire section to snacks served outside of the program:
The plan strongly reccomends that only water, 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice and non-fat or low-fat milk be offered during the school day in all grades. Juices should not contain added sugar and are required to be age and portion appropriate. No coffee products, caffeinated beverages or foods containing artificial sweetners are allowed during the school day.
Snacks and drinks must be limited to:
- 200 calories each;
- no more than 35 percent calories from fat;
- less than 10 percent total calories from saturated fat;
- less than .5 grams of trans fat;
- no more than 35 percent of calories from sugar;
- no more than 200 milligrams of sodium.
And my personal favorite:
“Foods and beverages should not be offered as a reward or used as a means of punishment.”
However, if you want to send your child to school with a Mountain Dew and a Three Musketeers for lunch, you can do that.
Section 5.2: Due to special dietary needs and food safety concerns, food and beverages brought or delivered from outside sources may be consumed only by individual students for which they were brought or delivered, and not by the general student population.
So as I make plans for the upcoming Halloween party, I have to take into consideration that Big Brother is watching. “Organized food events and celebrations held during the school day shall be regulated and monitored by school personnel to meet the requirements of this policy.”
This means no one is going to show us the love on Valentine’s Day, either. In our home, I’ve been teaching my daughters that less is usually more. Everything in moderation. But apparently celebrating two times a year — October 31st and February 14th — is too much of a good thing.