Archive for Thursday, March 15, 2007

Balanced approach to snacks sought

March 15, 2007


Students go face-off with school board candidates

Local high school students go head to head with the people who govern their school lives. Enlarge video

No to cookie police, says one school board candidate.

No to food police, say several others.

But yes to promoting moderation on junk food and more physical exercise in Lawrence's public schools, say most of the eight candidates running for Lawrence's school board in the April 3 election, in which four seats will be filled.

Cookies, sugary drinks and other sweet snacks made it onto the menu of questions the candidates were served up Wednesday night during a taped televised candidate forum sponsored by the Voter Education Coalition.

The forum, which featured an hour of questions for the candidates, will be shown on Sunflower Broadband's Channel 6 at 8 p.m. today, 11 a.m. Saturday, 8 p.m. March 22 and 8 p.m. March 29.

Next fall, the district plans to take a hard line on what kinds of foods can be brought into schools - for example, no more sugary snacks and drinks for school birthday parties. This year, schools have been encouraging healthy snack choices but not putting any limits on foods.

Scott Morgan, who served on the school board from 1999 to 2003, said the policy falls into his philosophy of "all things in moderation."

Morgan said his sixth-grade daughter "is very concerned that the cookie police will come in and take the cookies out of the sack lunches."

Morgan said it was important that schools change the food they offer for sale. But the district should also show flexibility and allow students to make good choices and stress all-around wellness, he said.

Rich Minder, the only incumbent seeking re-election, said, "I'm certain nobody in the school district wants to become food police."

However, Minder said the district needs to step up and provide leadership on the wellness issue and "demonstrate what's possible."

Robert Rauktis, a retired physician, said the issue sounds "kind of silly" to him. Rauktis also said it was "preposterous" to have teachers enforce such a policy.

"It's a big rock to push up a steep hill," he said.

Michael Machell, a personnel manager, said he agrees that the district shouldn't police the food students and parents bring to school.

"I agree with the policy and I think it should be supplemented with physical education," Machell said.

Machell said that good eating habits should start at home.

Marlene Merrill, a former local district administrator, said obesity was a major problem in the country, "so I think a wellness policy is a good idea."

"I think teachers and parents need help at knowing what kinds of fun snacks to bring in," she said. "Snacks can be fun, but don't necessarily have to be a cupcake or a cookie."

Michael Pomes, an environmental scientist for the state, also said he is opposed to food police. And Pomes said that more opportunities should be found for exercise at school and that parents need to buy into the benefits of physical fitness.

"They're going to have more impact on students than forcing it at school," he said.

Mary Loveland said one of the reasons for the policy is that the district will lose some of its federal funding unless it adopts such a policy.

"I personally can highly recommend sugar-free ice cream snacks," she said.

Another candidate, Victor Sisk, was on a trip and couldn't attend. But Stan Roth read a statement from Sisk stating that the transition period for the new food policy this year should help the district's parents and students get used to it.


Nikki May 11 years, 3 months ago

sugar free ice cream really isn't all that good for you either. It still has fats. And fake sugar.

simplifying 11 years, 3 months ago

I would love to see the day when all the school serves or has available in machines is organic food.

lelly 11 years, 3 months ago

I would agree, simplifying.

I also believe that the school district's food policy will be impossible to enforce until the school district cleans up its own food program. French toast sticks and syrup? For lunch? really?

Staci Dark Simpson 11 years, 3 months ago

This is just goofy. Being the food police will be a waste of time. THe key is moderation. The kids should still be allowed to bring in sugary snacks for birthdays and special occasions. I think the key is physical activity. If you eat in moderation you will stay healthy, its the physical activity that really helps lose weight and keep you healthy

prioress 11 years, 3 months ago

Some of this gets entertaining, doesn't it? Once again schools are being asked to help solve a lifestyle and societal issue. Of course they should try to help out, and limit bad food choices, but many fat kids come from a family with fat adults sitting in the front room doing nothing much to help out. If we can't get momma off the couch with the kid to walk around the block or to watch what they all eat, everyone is p*ssing in the wind. The feds passed this not because they care about kids, but because they are terrified of the potential health care costs coming down the pike.

Jamesaust 11 years, 3 months ago

What sort of "moderation" exists when kids are snarfing down cookies, chips, etc. in school, after school, and then eating the typical high-fat, high-sodium, adulterated mega-portions consumed in most American households?

Schools can't tailor policies for each child. Rather, unfortunately, they have to often work with the 'lowest common denominator' - which are the kids (already) with health problems or at risk. Rather than having your kid chomping on a King-Size Snickers in front of some diabetic kid going without, perhaps parents should recognize that school is not intended to be a food-party.

Confrontation 11 years, 3 months ago

"Morgan said his sixth-grade daughter "is very concerned that the cookie police will come in and take the cookies out of the sack lunches."

Seriously? Sounds more like a first grader to me. If this girl is that obsessed with cookies, then someone does need to police her food.

hockmano 11 years, 3 months ago

Where do you think these children are becoming obese?AT HOME! Let the kids eat what they want in moderation. It's the parents they should be pointing fingers at. Why should the healthy kids be punished?Alot of these kids are eating healthier at school than they are at home. Leave the dietary responsibility up to the parents. Give the kids alternatives, but in the end just let them be kids!

Kathy Gates 11 years, 3 months ago

Lelly has it right. How can you criticize parents for wanting to bring in cupcakes for a birthday when you offer french toast sticks, syrup, sausage and tritators for lunch? To add to the hypocrisy, there are days when my third grader gets exactly 15 minutes of recess during the day. Let's see--feed 'em high fat, high sugar, high sodium for lunch, take away all but 15 minutes of recess, and criticize the parents for what you think they may be doing or not doing?

SoundMind 11 years, 3 months ago

""Morgan said his sixth-grade daughter "is very concerned that the cookie police will come in and take the cookies out of the sack lunches."

Seriously? Sounds more like a first grader to me. If this girl is that obsessed with cookies, then someone does need to police her food."

This is an eleven year old we're talking about. Stick to complaining about adults, please.

Confrontation 11 years, 3 months ago

Okay. The eleven year old has a father who is making her look absolutely stupid. How's that?

Linda Endicott 11 years, 3 months ago

Think back...what was YOUR view on cookies when you were 11? Kids will be kids, and for decades kids have thought that cookies, cake, candy, etc., were pretty neat. That's how kids think.

As for recess, smgkag, as far as I know it's always been 15 minutes. When I was in grade school, back in the dark ages, we got two recesses a day...15 minutes in the morning, and 15 in the afternoon.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 3 months ago

The primary reason for school is to teach children, isn't it? If you also have to provide lessons in healthy eating and provide time for exercise, things that the parents should be making sure the kids get, it really cuts into teaching time, doesn't it?

Decades ago, this wasn't much of a problem. Back before there were a lot of single parent families. Back when kids might have both parents at home, but only one of them worked, usually the father.

Then, somehow, things changed. More families had both parents working. In order to teach the kids it was considered necessary to have them at school all day.

At first, they got to go home for lunch. Oh, wait, we can't do that anymore. Too many latchkey kids, and nobody would be home to feed them lunch anyway. Or the kids are stopping somewhere and getting in trouble on the way to and from home. So they started having closed lunch periods. Which was a godsend to many parents who worked all day, anyway.

Exercise for kids didn't used to be a problem, either. Most kids walked to and from school every day, or rode their bikes. This usually took care of the at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week that they recommend now, even for kids that lived relatively close, because kids will goof off on the way and play along the way.

Oh, wait, we can't do that anymore, either. There might be some pervert waiting somewhere to grab them, or they might not be paying attention and get hit by a car.

Kids used to go outside and play when they got home, usually until dark, usually physical activity. I used to do my homework after supper. There was plenty of time to get in all that exercise and still get everything done. No video games back then, or computers. Yeah, we had TV then, but no cable, and the old antenna only picked up four channels, five on a good day. Not nearly as much to grab a kid's attention away from play.

Oh, wait, we can't do that anymore, either. Kids can't play in their yards anymore, because those damn perverts are everywhere, and most parents don't pay enough attention to their kids to even know where they are, unless they're inside and underfoot. Mothers don't watch out the windows constantly anymore to see what they're doing or what they're up to, or (gasp) go outside with them while they play, and maybe join in, like they used to.

Of course, now mom is usually at work, and not home when the kids get home from school, and so they can't go outside to play anyway...all those perverts, you know, and you have to keep the kids locked inside to keep them safe...

Life sure is complicated anymore...

denak 11 years, 3 months ago

I worked at a school here in Lawrence for a year and personally, I don't think we should have birthday parties where cupcakes and snacks are bought. Most kids get birthday parties, they aren't going to suffer from low self-esteem if they don't get a party at school.

At the school I worked at, at the start of the day, the teacher would call the class to attention, and then they would start the "birthday ritual." Basically, the child would be sung to, the teacher would give them the Birthday sign to hang over his or her seat, a pencil or some other small item and a pass to go to the head of the lunch line. That was it. It was enough for the chld to feel special and unlike parties that disrupt class for 30+ minutes, it was over in 10.

However, I am all for tradition and given children "memories" As a parent, I use to love going to my son's Valentine parties, so I think on a few ocassions, there should be a party. I think if we limit the birthday parties, then sending cupcakes to school on Valentine's Day would be fine.

As for the school lunches, I am in total agreement with revamping the menus. There is NO reason to have frech sticks and syrup for lunch or breakfast.

If you give a child the choice between something sugary and an apple, the will pick the sugary item. However, if they only have once choice and that is the apple, they will eat it and not mind eating it.


Richard Heckler 11 years, 3 months ago

People who push for growth and want a reduced public school budget does not make sense. Growth with reduced budgets is an illusion.

Growth does not come for free. Property tax bills and water bills are but a small example. It ain't going to happen.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 3 months ago

I think crazy ks and I were children at about the same point in history. I would dred the thought of my parents driving us to school. There was socializing to do.

There were "patrol boys" back then as well. One would blow a whistle once and we would stick STOP SIGNS out to halt traffic. Then a double whistle would sound indicating it was safe to cross the streets. It was kinda cool although during that week I was assigned it required arriving at school early and staying a little late.

Went home for lunch until intermediate and high school however I do not remember much junk food being served in the cafeterias. There was never soda pop...either water or milk.

Flap Doodle 11 years, 3 months ago

A pork sausage in each hand is balance.

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