Posted on Thu, Mar. 09, 2006
District may go for junk-food jugular
Santa Clara Unified Could Ban Unhealthful Fare at All School Events, Groups
By Becky Bartindale
Mercury News http://www.mercurynews.com
It's one thing to ban the sale of soda, candy and potato chips in school
But what happens when a local school district tries to outlaw selling
-- or even giving away -- popular high-fat, sugar-rich foods 24 hours
a day, seven days a week, on all campuses?
Santa Clara Unified School District trustees are about to find out.
They are considering a policy that would bar birthday cupcakes in class,
fatty hot dogs at sporting events and PTA bake sales. Candy and cookie-dough
fundraisers would be verboten. And for those who get thirsty, think water,
juice and low-fat milk.
``What it means, basically, is no junk foods,'' said Roger Barnes, the
district's business administrator. Students could bring what they want
from home, but only for themselves.
The community members and school employees who proposed the new policy
say it represents a valiant effort to improve students' health and curb
childhood obesity. But some students and parents say they deserve the
chance to make their own choices. School booster and parent organizations
worry it will cut into the tens of thousands of dollars they raise through
food sales, which fund a host of things, including band uniforms, athletic
tournament fees, stage sets and school movie nights.
The proposed rules are based on nutrition standards California will require
during the school day in all grades beginning next year. Recent laws extend
a ban on sodas from lower grades to high schools, and limit calories,
fat and sugar content of food that may be served at school.
But the Santa Clara district is taking the healthy diet movement one
step further: enforcing the new nutrition standards at all times. Representatives
of booster and parent-teacher groups are expected to turn out in force
at a study session tonight to ask the school board to ratchet back the
rules. A decision will be made at a later meeting.
``Like me, everybody supported the school-day thing,'' said Santa Clara
High School Principal Brad Syth. ``But when it went to 24/7, it took on
a whole new life.''
Proponents of better school nutrition, including Jack O'Connell, California's
superintendent of public instruction, point to a link between healthy
food and academic performance. They say campuses that have gotten rid
of junk food during the school day are reporting higher test scores and
fewer discipline problems.
``We can't educate children's brains in an unhealthy body,'' said Phyllis
Bramson-Paul, director of nutrition services for the California Department
Programs in peril?
At Santa Clara High School, soda sales account for about 50 percent of
the athletic budget, said athletic director Tony McGilvery. And boosters
contribute about $12,000 a year from concession sales.