Party Hearty

August 29, 2011 by Katy Brown
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Spit that out, young lady.

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?

Get creative.

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.

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17 Responses to “Party Hearty”

  1. Leigh AnneNo Gravatar says:

    My kids’ school took it a step farther and doesn’t even allow parties. What really gets me are 2 things. 1. Parents aren’t allowed to bring in any snacks that they consider unhealthy, but it’s okay for the teachers to give the kids candy treats, Frozen Friday (sugar filled frozen treats) and treat bags filled with candy on Valentines day (that they aren’t allowed to eat until they get home with ME!!). 2. School lunches are not nutritious. Almost everything comes out of box, processed to its fullest extent.

    The hypocrisy really gets me. I decided when school started this year, that I’d use their own policy against them. Every time my kids come home with treats or stories of treats I’m going to call and give them an ear full.

  2. TriciaNo Gravatar says:

    My first thought was – why don’t the schools follow the same rules? Every time I’ve ever checked the lunch schedule posted on the web that includes nutritional content, I’ve been stunned by what they consider an appropriate lunch. Yes the calorie count was reasonable – but the other nutritional aspects were way out of line. We’ve been packing lunch for some time now. Our tax dollars hard at work…..NOT! Hard at work setting our children up for heart failure later in life….

  3. AnnNo Gravatar says:

    This is why my children attend private schools. We follow nutritional guidelines but no one breaks out in a rash when I make a dozen chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing to wish Jesus a happy birthday. It is,in fact, encouraged. :)

    Common sense has left the public school system and has been replaced by lawyers

  4. Katy BrownNo Gravatar says:

    We had to stop making popcorn for the kids on Fridays because of the caloric/fat content in addition to the school-made breakfast and lunch served during the course of the day. Kids loved Popcorn Friday. If we can find a way to air-pop it, we might be allowed to serve it again. Schools are being fined if they are discovered to be out of compliance…the teachers and administrators are being watched.

    And I agree with Ann — this isn’t about nutrition; this is about litigation. On the other side, are we really teaching kids to be selective with their food choices, or are we showing them how to be food obsessed?

    I suggested we try Jell-O cups for Valentine’s Day (red — strawberry or cherry), and someone brought up that sugar-free means that it’s filled with a sugar substitute, which isn’t allowed either. AND, the red dyes are more controversial than the fat or calorie count. What do we do? Cheese and grape platter from Kroger — $39.99? Brie en croute?

  5. PaigeNo Gravatar says:

    I remember when we used to have fun at party time in school…we looked forward to it. They are seriously overthinking this. I agree lunches need to be healthier but come on, these are kids. Let them have fun, eat sugar and dance around. Being an adult comes too soon.

  6. AlexisNo Gravatar says:

    Could you imagine kids now days – bobbing for apples? My oh my. The germs that must have been swimming around in that metal tub of water. I’m surprised any if us made it past 5th grade. :). I agree with Ann. Society has lost all “reason”

  7. CaraNo Gravatar says:

    Ugh! Thomas talks about this all the time. Parties now are one box of prepackaged Rice Krispie Treats (better than homemade?) a container of strawberries and white, skim milk or sometimes a Capri Sun. Really? He can’t give his students ANY food or treats at all. Yet he sees elementary students chugging Mountain Dew and eating a Famous Amos breakfast, because that’s what their parents gave them. I know the school system is trying to do a good thing, and I commend them for trying to make kids healthier, but Jamie Oliver will be the first to tell you that prepackaged foods are not the place to be!

  8. bradmcNo Gravatar says:

    On the other side, I’ve been to 6 p.m. Girl Scout meetings at school — (with my own kid; I don’t just go because they’re fun) — where, like, pizza was served, plus a great big tray of cupcakes was passed around and I’d be like, ‘Really? Umm, because dinner’s about to be served at home in about 20 minutes. So, yeah, thanks…’ Plus there was one girl in the troop who was actually going to CAMC for counseling for weight issues. This was when she was like 6 years old. But out came the cupcakes anyhow…

  9. bradmcNo Gravatar says:

    That said, as long as they play Ke$ha and Katy Perry at the school parties, I’m happy as a clam.

  10. MonicaNo Gravatar says:

    Ann, If I sing happy birthday to Jesus, will you make me some of those cupcakes? Yum.
    I found it somewhat confusing when my kids made the change from private to public school.
    We had a severe peanut allergy kid that followed us for years. My sympathies did not extend to high school, where I swear we were asked to please not bring peanut products to the school. Really? Are you going to ask his college to put out a campus-wide peanut ban?
    And you are right. Those supposedly nutritious school lunches are awful.

    • SaraNo Gravatar says:

      Oh Monica! You made me laugh because we have a kid at church camp with a peanut allergy and the parents wanted the camp to be peanut free — and we serve pb&j at every meal as an alternative to whatever is being served…
      My fellow counselors and I were so fed up with the parents hovering around, we thought about buying Mr. Peanut t-shirts.

  11. SaraNo Gravatar says:

    This saddens me. Nothing better than a good handful of candy corn or conversation hearts! While I appreciate the need for moderation with our kids’ diets, I know my kids survived a few parties held for special occasions at school.

  12. AsleyNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t have a problem with occasional treats. Occasional treats. Once a week even. If something is given everyday, it is not a treat.

  13. KatyNo Gravatar says:

    Let them eat cake!

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