Friday, September 28, 2012

To snack or not to snack? IS that the question?

Chesterfield schools encourage healthy snacks and limit celebrations that involve food during the school day. Not only is our school district working to promote student wellness and preventing and reducing childhood obesity but many students have food sensitivities that can lead to life-threatening reactions. At home, parents can manage the foods their children are exposed to.  Managing exposure at school is more of a challenge, so schools take reasonable steps to meet that challenge by asking all parents to follow four simple guidelines:

1) If you bring food to your child at school, do not bring food for anyone else’s child and do not share your food with any other child.
2) If you wish to send treats for other students, for a birthday or any other celebration, send non-food treats such as pencils, bookmarks, etc.
3) Unless specifically asked to do so, do not send any food to school for consumption by other students.
4) Talk to your children about the problems associated with sharing food at school and discourage them from doing so.

These new guidelines have been adopted by throughout the County and in order to help support this initiative, Chesterfield County Council of  PTAs/PTSAs is working to create additional guidelines that include a list of Acceptable Foods/Beverages approved for use with the classroom celebrations that are organized or sponsored through the PTA.  The goal is to encourage healthier eating throughout the entire school day and to ensure that students aren't receiving high fat, high sugar or empty calorie snacks outside of the lunch room.  

Many of our local unit PTAs, especially in the Elementary Schools, recruit Room Parent volunteers who are responsible for planning and supervising the various classroom celebrations.  The idea involving the new guidelines would encourage Room Parents to then work with their teachers and class parents to ensure that the acceptable foods list is followed when planning in-class celebrations/activities sponsored by the PTA.  These guidelines would help support the healthy eating initiative and also ensure that food sensitivities are being taken into consideration.  

If you poll your parent population, you will most likely find that the majority of them would support these initiatives and would be delighted to see the days of the never ending cupcakes and cookies go away (or at least be reduced).  The idea isn't to take away all of the sugary treats that our students look forward to, but to limit what they are exposed to.  I recently heard someone say "no one wants to be the cupcake police" and while that is true, there is a way to compromise and find a healthy balance that both students and parents will appreciate and look forward to.   

For a recommended food list or other ideas about how you can help your local unit support student wellness through PTA sponsored events, contact me at  

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