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.