Lawrence school board members got a taste Monday night of how their new wellness policy is being put into practice.
Their biggest concern?
That candy, sugary cookies and soda pop might no longer be the traditional fare at birthday parties and other celebrations at school.
But Deputy Supt. Bruce Passman told them not to worry.
"We're never going to get to the point where we're policing food in the school," Passman said.
Passman, Paula Murrish, director of food services, and Lynda Allen, director of math and science, which includes physical education and health, gave the board an overview of the guidelines they've developed for putting the wellness policy into action.
The guidelines have been split into three parts: nutrition, nutrition education and physical fitness.
And in each of those parts, local schools will make changes over a three-year period.
In year one, they're cutting back on most of the fatty and sugary items sold as a la carte items in elementary schools and in the vending machines and school stores at the junior high and high schools. Gone are most treats like brownies and ice cream.
More about the school board meeting
In year two, food for classroom rewards, parties, snacks and celebrations will have to meet the same guidelines this year for a la carte and vending machines.
And in year three, school employees will adhere to the vending machine guidelines adopted for students.
Most of the controversy has been in the types of food sold at school, Passman said.
Murrish said federal nutrition standards used for school breakfasts and lunches are being extended this year to those sold as a la carte lunch items, in vending machines and in school stores.
Students have been mostly complaining about losing the sugary items, such as brownies and ice cream, she said. They've been replaced by items under 200 calories, such as granola bars and real-fruit wraps.
Murrish said she was searching for more tasty products to be offered to students that meet the nutrition standards.
Board members brought up an issue of concern to some parents - are treats for birthday parties banned?
While there won't be an outright ban on sugary foods, parents will be encouraged by teachers to bring in something besides a high-sugar product, Murrish said.
Board Member John Mitchell said he was worried that some elementary students might be made to feel guilty if they wanted treats for their school birthday parties.
Wellness policy guidelines
- Lynda Allen, Lawrence Public Schools director of math and sciences (which includes physical education and health), speaks about the challenges of incorporating nutrition education and physical activity into the existing school day.
- Paula Murrish, Lawrence Public Schools director of food services, talks about changes made this year affecting food sold at school.
"It's a balancing act. Everything in moderation," Murrish said.
Passman said parents are getting a monthly newsletter from the food services department called "Nutrition Nuggets" that explains the nutrition guidelines and provides healthy snack tips and exercise suggestions.
Board Member Rich Minder said parent-teacher organizations are concerned about what they would be able to sell for their fundraising efforts. Minder said they might be stumped as to what kind of products, other than food, they can use that would be marketable.
Board Member Leonard Ortiz said it would be a cultural change.
Ortiz compared the nutrition changes to when Lawrence placed a smoking ban in bars and restaurants - there was an initial backlash, but most people eventually liked it.
"It takes time for people to adjust," Ortiz said.
In other action:
¢ The board went over several legislative positions that it will suggest the Kansas Association of School Board take concerning school funding next year.
Among the positions board members took was to support state funding for full-day kindergarten.
Board President Sue Morgan was elected as a delegate to the Dec. 1-3 KASB convention in Wichita.
¢ The board also recognized teachers who received Lawrence Schools Foundation 2006 Teacher Innovation Grant recipients. Thirteen projects throughout the district are being funded with foundation grants.