The state of Massachusetts is paving the way for healthy food in schools with “An Act to Promote Proper School Nutrition” (H. 4376).
This bill has already passed the House of Representatives and is on its way to the senate. It covers foods sold in Massachusetts elementary, middle and high schools through the cafeterias, vending machines and school stores.
The goal of the bill is to address the rise in obesity in our children by replacing soda, sweets and other junk foods with healthier alternatives.
Local news has had a field day with this reporting “school bans on cakes and other junk foods”. However, the food the bill currently addresses is only food sold by or in the school. It does not cover the numerous treats parents and teachers bring in to share within the four walls of the classroom.
I’m personally still amazed that state representatives have not caught on to the classroom food controversy. While the above bill will certainly be a step in the right direction, there are still many times during the course of a month where children will indulge right at their desks.
If the average class size is 18-20 (many are more), that is approximately 1.5 birthdays a month. Add to that the various holidays and that puts you at 1.5-2.5 a month. Add to that classroom rewards and you are looking at celebrations in the classroom nearly once a week. These celebrations typically involve cupcakes, cookies, sugary drinks among other unhealthy foods.
Even more amazing is all of this is happening right under our noses without our parental consent. As a food allergy mom I had to talk to the school to opt out of this for our food allergic son and eventually advocate for more inclusive choices. The school would not go to a food free route all together. Food allergies are just the tip of the iceberg. Many families have specific diets they follow whether for health reasons–diabetes, or moral or religious reasons.
Sure food is what we use to celebrate and socialize. That certainly seems to be the main argument. But obesity is at an all time high in the United States. Perhaps we should find healthier ways of celebrating and socializing.
We can all enjoy a piece of cake or a cookie now and again, our children should not have to be faced with that choice on their own each and every day at school.
For more information on the Massachusetts State Bill click on An Act to Promote Proper School Nutrition.