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POLL: Should Kids Get Sweets in School Parties?

A new policy released to parents of Westford Public School students on Friday afternoon announced that sugary snacks and sodas would no longer be allowed during school celebrations.

An e-mail sent to parents of Westford Public School students on Friday announced that, due in part to new guidelines passed this summer by the Massachusetts Public Health Council, sugary snacks such as brownies, cupcakes, and sodas would no longer be allowed during school celebrations.

The move also came in part due to increasing food allergies reported in children in addition to concerns over child obesity.

Although the e-mail did not indicate whether this also extended to extra-curricular or other school celebrations held during non-school days, the letter indicates that non-sugared juice portions of 4 ounces and store bought snack items in their original packaging would still be allowed while soda, sports drinks, and any products with nuts would no longer be permitted.

The superintendent's office is asking all parents to let those in charge of school parties know in advance what food they will be bringing along with the ingredients in those items.

Vincent DiRico December 12, 2011 at 12:24 PM
I followed up with an email, this is sad/silly/... and is just another example of liberal whacko (the government must take care of everything) approach some love so much here in Mass. ---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: Vincent DiRico <vdirico@gmail.com> Date: Fri, Dec 9, 2011 at 4:05 PM Subject: Re: [Westfordcs_news] A Letter from Superintendent Olsen To: skennelly@westfordk12.us, bolsen@westfordk12.us hi, This is really sad. I had a chat with my 3 girls about this last night, even they realize there are just a few of these celebrations. I do have a question: how often did a child with a food allergy get exposed to something he/she should not have during these celebrations, is there any data? Have an excellent weekend. thanks Vincent DiRico
Vincent DiRico December 12, 2011 at 12:58 PM
this is a better link, I think, anyone know for sure, I see "Special Occasion Standards for Meals and Snacks" --> "If serving sweets/desserts, offer in moderation" http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/com-health/nutrition-phys-activity/eo509-state-agency-food-standards.pdf What am I missing? thanks Vinny
Laura Lamarre Anderson December 12, 2011 at 04:33 PM
There are so many ways to have fun and celebrate - fun does not require cupcakes. Kids love opportunities to socialize, play, and create. If food is involved, it ought to be purchased by a single parent volunteer who has all the information needed to avoid problems. My kids do not have food allergies, but I empathize with parents who have this worry.
Vicky Geary December 12, 2011 at 07:47 PM
I agree this is both sad and silly. I have been either a room mom or party helper for my daughter's classes from Kindergarten through 5th Grade. We always had a couple of kids who were allergic to either nuts or eggs or diary but that never stopped the small sweet treat. In several cases, the parent of the child with allergies sent in the sweet treat so that everyone could enjoy or sent in a treat specifically for their child. And while Laura makes a good point that celebrations don't necessarily require sweets, it is still a fun thing that the kids enjoy. It only happens 3x/year for goodness sake. Must we take all the joy out of celebrations. And by the way, in all the years, I volunteered for parties and the like, not once did a parent send in soda for the beverage. I think most people have more common sense than that.
Vicky Geary December 12, 2011 at 07:49 PM
I might to also comment that one of the things the kids do look forward to with the celebrations is the sweet treat and the activities as these pretty much never occur during the course of the regular school year. Its just one more thing we apparently are bent on eliminating.
Donna December 13, 2011 at 01:12 AM
I suppose that my peanut butter cookies sprinkled with peanut dust are a "no-go" this year. Thank goodness that the Massachusetts Public Health Council is here to save us! What would we do without Uncle Sam telling us how to feed our kids. Hey parents, if your kid is fat it's YOUR fault. Get over it and do something about it. How will our kids compete in a global economy when we are telling our kids what to eat!? Good God. Save us. :-(
Rachel Amato December 13, 2011 at 03:01 AM
The unfortunate part is that many parents I spoke with said with this it is getting too hard to be room mothers.
Kathleen Spaeth December 13, 2011 at 04:47 AM
Last week, there was discussion about counting the one tablespoon of Tomato Sauce on your child's slice of pizza as one of their daily serving of Vegetables. Seriously, that is not a daily serving of Vegetables and we all know that! To consider this otherwise is ridiculous and absurd. Does this classification mean that the Massachusetts Public Health Council won't be required to serve your child the proper amount of Vegetables each day. Why put up with this? This week, there is discussion about eliminating sugary snacks and drinks from your child's School Celebrations. Are you serious? What next? How many School Celebrations are there each year and why all the interferance? Why is the Massachusetts Public Health Council given so much clout in the Westford School's and by the Westford School Committee? Don't you parents have a right to speak up? Of course not, because your opinions on what your children should or shouldn't be eating don't get decided by you, now do they? Also, I am so tired of hearing about how we have to change our food serving policies because of the number of incidence of allergic reactions. How often do these incidents happen and why does a small minority of children have to affect the whole majority? Stand up, put your foot down, and grab your jar of Peanut Butter and dig right in! I now demand to know what Supt. Olsen is eating for his lunch each day and won't rest until I find this out. Stay out of our Children's Lunch Boxes!
Vicky Geary December 13, 2011 at 10:55 AM
That is a great point Rachel. I think if I had to be room mom now, I would pass. While I loved the interaction with the kids and working with the teacher, having to get ingredients ahead of time, run it by the school nurse, etc is not worth the hassle. It will be interesting to see what happens over the course of the next few years with this policy. One other thing re the allergy concerns: many of the opinions I have read or heard about from parents goes contrary to this policy. Children with allergies (unless it is an extreme one) need to learn to manage their own food and need to learn to survive in a world that will not necessarily cater to them. After all, is peanut butter going to be banned from the lunch room at IBM or Walmart or wherever else they work?
Sally Rosenthal December 13, 2011 at 12:34 PM
I don't know--I think this makes it easier to be a room mom. I was a room mom last year, and at every single party, someone brought in snacks we weren't allowed to serve because they contained nuts (even though we sent out notes before each party that the snacks had to be nut-free). In fact, I passed on being a room mom this year simply because of all the hassle with the food.
Evelyn December 13, 2011 at 09:38 PM
What would you serve on Valentines Day? This is really silly. Oh yes celery sticks and no fat crackers.
Kelly December 14, 2011 at 01:34 PM
I would love to know who comes up with these ideas? I'm sure it's a small few, and how can get away with making decisions for everyone. My idea? Send your own holiday snacks into school with your child :) This is easy for people who like to bake, and for those who don't - you can buy them at the supermarket. Get a case of bottled water for the classroom for those who don't bring a drink.
Rachel Amato December 14, 2011 at 04:07 PM
what is really sad is they can no longer do popsicles when the weather is hot! Just water
Kristina Greene December 15, 2011 at 12:35 AM
I too think this is ridiculous. There are max 4 parties per year. To ban all sweets 4 times a year but allow dessert to be served EVERYDAY with a school lunch - come on! What kind of message is this sending? Unfortunately, politics are behind this. School lunches are controlled by the federal government (USDA) so the state can't impose restrictions. They can impose guidelines and restrictions on what is called "competitive foods" - these include a la cart items, vending machines, food for fundraisers and celebrations. So that is what the state did. I believe that obesity was the major factor in these new rules - not necessarily food allergies. Wait until next year when the regulations go in full force - say good bye to the sodas in vending machines. I agree that we need to send a good message about healthy eating. As a parent, I appreciate the effort. However, this is totally misguided. 4 times a year no cupcake, but line up for your carb loaded lunch with canned fruit, chocolate milk and dessert EVERYDAY in the lunch line. This says more than the occasional celebration. This is food the school is providing on a regular basis, children expect that the school is providing healthy food. They are not. Of course, I have the right to restrict when/if my child buys lunch - I do. But it's still the message that those lunches are healthy that I am fighting against. This is a good description: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/14/massachusetts-bans-junk-f_n_899325.html
Dan D. December 17, 2011 at 06:55 PM
Schools really need to get out of the parenting business and stick with the educatin' business. This is just silly and crazy. This will not have any effect on kid's weight, nor should it be the schools job to try to regulate their weight. It rests upon the parents and no one else. I am afraid this is just another effort of schools to extend their reach into the personal lives of children and their parents. No wonder credibility of so-called "educators" continues to suffer.
JoeD December 18, 2011 at 02:11 AM
Super Olsen is really making himself unpopular in town these days, the teachers cant stand him, the highschool students cant believe he took away vacations and now the elementary parents are on the warpath due to this move! Go everett!
Dan D. December 18, 2011 at 03:46 PM
What's really sad/silly is that 22 respondents to this poll believe it's the school's job to regulate what their kids eat. Abdication of parental responsibility?
JoeD December 18, 2011 at 04:35 PM
Kids cant have an occasional cupcake in the Westford Public Schools but they can have a day celebrating Gays, Bis, and Transgenders (day of silence) in the schools, The Times They are A-Chaning
Rachel Amato December 19, 2011 at 05:08 PM
If you are interested there is a petition to get this changed at http://www.change.org/petitions/westford-public-schools-allow-students-to-enjoy-sweet-treats-during-classroom-celebrations#
Vincent DiRico December 21, 2011 at 02:09 AM
My priorities were right on, notice I asked: "how often did a child with a food allergy get exposed to something he/she should not have during these celebrations, is there any data?" I have it from a very good authority that "During celebrations I don't believe that we have had any emergencies, although we have had them during the year.". I grew-up with a brother who had special needs (back in the stone age) so I know the real battles that had to be fought back then. This policy on snacks at celebrations is the "liberal whacko (the government must take care of everything) approach some love so much here in Mass".
Vincent DiRico December 21, 2011 at 02:36 AM
another example http://www.boston.com/Boston/metrodesk/2011/12/saugus-school-superintendent-reverses-decision-allows-santa-visit-schools/2izD6nzqwG7usMe6CvGNDJ/index.html?p1=Local_Links
AB December 22, 2011 at 05:01 AM
I have allergies - gluten, dairy, eggs, tree nuts, soy, and oats. I also have an epi pen, as does anyone with these types of issues (my guess is so does the school nurse). The mother of a child with the severe allergic reaction to foods is the best educated and able to ensure the safety of her child at any public event - including classroom holiday parties. My son has autism, I don't alter every environment to suit him, it's my job to give him the tools to cope with an environment which may not always be safe for him. I fully agree that too many laypeople do not properly understand the issues of cross-contamination, thus sound reasoning to ask that foods should be store brought and prepackaged. But to ban outright the cookies, sweets, and treats? It's an absurd amount of political [over]protectionism. Despite statements to the contrary, Westford Public Schools' position is NOT in line with the regulation itself, which does allow for cookies and sweet treats as long as they fall within the guidelines. Consider the Stalker "A" list, which lists food items conforming to the new MA regulations. An Otis Spunkmeyer cookie rife with unpronounceable ingredients is nutritionally acceptable, while a cookie free of any Top 8 allergens, made and packaged in dedicated allergen-free facilities and comprised less than 10 common, pronounceable ingredients, is not acceptable. Ludicrous.
AB February 01, 2012 at 12:44 AM
And the Superintendent is telling parents now that if they continue to complain about the Decree of the Sovereign Lord of WPS, instead of maybe relaxing the Iron Fist a little, he will simply eliminate ALL school/class parties for kids. Nice, real nice. Way to make the parents feel heard. Acting the Dictator isn't exactly how you get parents to be sympathetic to the plight of the almighty school dollar, you know.
Joe Loudin February 01, 2012 at 09:56 AM
As we are all well aware by now, Olsen talks out of both sides of his mouth constantly. The support he was LOST this year by Westford residents and his school staff is epic. Believe it or not many are longing for the 'good ol days' of Dr. Steve Foster at this point!
Vincent DiRico February 05, 2012 at 10:10 PM
I just saw a story on FOX News, they got the story all wrong (said it was just no sweets on Valentines Day, ...). A person named Emily Norton was shown, she was hysterical about her kids having a bag of candy/cake/... she said "last year was hell, a second grader and a kindergartner came back with bags full of candy, cake, lollipops, garbage, they had eaten half of it already in school. I was like never again. This is not right, the school should not be making my job worse, it is not like my children don't get enough candy believe me" Liberal-wacko land Mass, a laughing stock again.
Vincent DiRico May 11, 2012 at 03:31 PM
more laughter http://www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/articles/2012/05/11/massachusetts_backs_off_school_bake_sale_ban/
Sam May 11, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Sucking the joy out a kids life. That is the Massachusetts liberal motto.

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