Posted on Fri, February 26, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
7 Comments | Categories: Contaminated Food, News, Current Events, Policy, School Food,
I look back on my school days in Syracuse, NY in the 80s and 90s, and think: we [my classmates] must have been the last of a dying generation. There was no No Child Left Behind debacle, childhood obesity rates werent as high, we ate peanut butter sandwiches with abandon right across from allergic friends, and rarely fast food in school cafeterias.
And gosh darn it, we did walk to school in 6-foot snowdrifts and we brought in homemade cupcakes for birthdays and bake sales. Well, times have changed.
This week, by ruling of the Chancellor of NYCs Department of Ed.s Office of School Food & Nutrition, bringing in homemade baked goods for sale (or celebration) during the school day was effectively banned.
Surprisingly, this addendum was made not with concerns of food safety (allergies, food-borne illness, etc.), but of meeting nutrition standards.
Now Reg. A-812 further delineates that all such competitive foods be in single-serving packaging (none are larger than 1.75 oz.), and contain no more than 200 calories. per serving. Chips, cookies and krispie treats are still acceptable, but they must come from a list of pre-approved items provided by brand-name companies such as Frito-Lay.
Obviously, home-baked goodies arent shrink-wrapped, of uniform size, or sent to a lab to calculate caloric content. Safety would have been a better justification for me personally not adherence to already debatable nutrition standards for occasional fundraisers.
Im all for limiting the empty calories accessible to children in our schools, and increasing the nutritional value of school food. However, inherent in my thinking is a reduction in the presence of brand-name and prepared foods in schools, among other measures.
Nutrition education is important too, remember, at home and in the classroom and home-ec classes are now rare. Id be thrilled if more youth baked brownies at home with a parent even if they came from a box. Trust in the parents seems to have been eroded here. We loved it when friends brought in home-baked treats, there was a sense of a shared food experience and ownership while we raised money for team uniforms and theatre costumes (OK, the latter for me!).
Im not saying I was a fit-and-lean star athlete (leading man) back in high school, and we still sold regular-sized bags of M&Ms in the actual classroom (the shock and horror!). But, somehow this regulation doesnt sit right with me. Its a command-and-control policy with unintentional side effects leaving little room for innovation.
What do you all think? You can read the regulation here and guidelines here.