I look back on my school days in Syracuse, NY in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and think: “ we [my classmates] must have been the last of a dying generation.” There was no “No Child Left Behind” debacle, childhood obesity rates weren’t as high, we ate peanut butter sandwiches with abandon right across from allergic friends, and rarely “fast food” in school cafeterias.
And gosh darn it, we did walk to school in 6-foot snowdrifts and we brought in homemade cupcakes for birthdays and bake sales. Well, times have changed.
This week, by ruling of the Chancellor of NYC’s Department of Ed.’s Office of School Food & Nutrition, bringing in homemade baked goods for sale (or celebration) during the school day was effectively banned.
Surprisingly, this addendum was made not with concerns of food safety (allergies, food-borne illness, etc.), but of meeting nutrition standards.
Now Reg. A-812 further delineates that all such “competitive foods” be in single-serving packaging (none are larger than 1.75 oz.), and contain no more than 200 calories. per serving. Chips, cookies and krispie treats are still acceptable, but they must come from a list of pre-approved items provided by brand-name companies such as Frito-Lay.
Obviously, home-baked goodies aren’t shrink-wrapped, of uniform size, or sent to a lab to calculate caloric content. Safety would have been a better justification for me personally – not adherence to already debatable nutrition standards for occasional fundraisers.
I’m all for limiting the empty calories accessible to children in our schools, and increasing the nutritional value of school food. However, inherent in my thinking is a reduction in the presence of brand-name and prepared foods in schools, among other measures.