“Mom, what are we bringing to school tomorrow for my birthday?”
If you’re like most busy parents, your child’s innocent question may send you into panic-stricken stammering.
“Um…well…it’s a surprise. A surprise! Yes, that’s it. You just wait until tomorrow and you’ll see.”
No, you didn’t forget your child’s birthday, it’s just that darn societal expectation that you’ll bring enough goodies to feed every kid in your child’s class. So, what’s it going to be? Stay up late and scour Pinterest for something, anything, that you can throw together, or sneak out to the store and eliminate some of the hassle?
For parents at some schools in Washington, Michigan, Colorado, Kentucky, and Minnesota, sugary sweets are no longer an option. This so-called “cupcake ban,” as reported by Shape Magazine, means that schools are requiring non-edible treats like pencils, stickers, and other trinkets be given.
Is this a good idea? Perhaps, if parents just aren’t complying with school recommendations to bring healthier treats. But in general, we as parents shouldn’t wait to be policed by the schools. Let’s take it upon ourselves to share healthier treats in classroom celebrations.
Here are a few homemade options that are wholesome and kid-approved!
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The days of going through the lunch line at school and picking every greasy, cheesy, fatty option are soon coming to an end. The Department of Agriculture has outlined new regulations for the kinds of foods that can be sold to kids at school. For the first time, the government is tackling the content of “a la carte” lines, vending machines, snack bars and other sources of food regularly available on school campuses. According to Registered Dietitian Mary Hartley, “the policy would increase student exposure to healthier foods and decrease exposure to less healthy foods.”
Previously unregulated, the “a la carte” lines and similar non- standard lunch line options provided kids access to foods like nachos, pizza, chocolate sandwich cookies, and other unhealthy treats. Now under the new guidelines those foods will be replaced with more healthful options like granola bars and yogurt. The new regulations also outline a difference in the beverages that can be sold in schools. Elementary and middle schools will only sell water, carbonated water, low fat and fat-free milk and 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices. Sodas and sports drinks that contain 60 calories or less will be made available in high schools. Though the changes don’t have to be in effect until July 1, 2014, several schools will start implementing them in the upcoming school year. It has been found that schools with this type of reform already in place have seen little to loss of revenue from food sales.
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When it comes to childhood obesity in the U.S., we obviously have a problem. An estimated one in three American kids and teens is obese, according to the American Heart Association. And as a result, weight-related diseases like Type 2 diabetes are on the rise in children, which leaves health experts scrambling for ways to reverse this alarming trend.
But thanks to various food laws put in place in some schools, we may be making some healthy progress.
According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, strict laws that curb the sales of junk food and sugary drinks in schools may be reducing children’s BMIs and slowing overall weight gain.
To conduct the study, researchers analyzed 6,300 students in 40 states, first measuring their heights and weights when they were fifth graders in 2004, and again when they were eighth graders in 2007. Over the same lapse of time, researchers also examined the databases of several state laws concerning nutrition in these schools.
Among the schools examined, there were a range of laws in place to govern the food and drinks being sold either in vending machines or school stores outside of designated meal times. These laws included restrictions on the sugar and fat contents of food and beverages, and the severity of these laws ranged from district to district.
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Bake sales used to be the highlight of any school function, with mountains of cupcakes and muffins, and bundt cakes galore, tempting the taste buds of kindergartners and teachers alike. But that may be changing soon, as schools are beginning to make bake sale restrictions in light of America’s ever-expanding waistline.
The public school system in Maryland’s Montgomery County, for instance, is no longer allowing its districts to hold bake sales, even if the fundraisers are for a good cause. This is because selling sweets has been outlawed during the school day, and the new ban is taken rather seriously, according to Marla Caplon of Montgomery County’s food and nutrition services, who says officials ‘make the rounds’ daily to ensure no one’s breaking the rules.
“If a bake sale is going on, it’s reported to administration and it’s taken care of,” she says. “You can’t sell Girl Scout cookies, candy, cakes, any of that stuff.”
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I have no children, but do have an adorable niece and nephew and love to hear stories about the sneaky little things they do to my sister to drive her insane. I remember not too long ago her telling me her son forgot his lunch, so she ran to school to drop it off a few minutes after the bell rang. Expecting to run it to his classroom, a teacher told her he was in the cafeteria. She walked in, found him at a table eating a doughnut off of a Styrofoam tray, and tapped him on the shoulder. She said when he turned around and saw her, he almost fell of his chair.
Turns out, for the past few months, he has been eating breakfast at home, then going to school and taking advantage of the free breakfast at school. Why? Because instead of a healthy well-balanced meal, they served maple bars and chocolate milk. Who could blame him?
This is just a cute story, one that we will tease him about for years to come, I’m sure, but my memory was jogged about it from a story I found in the New York Times.
According to the Times, there are many benefits to the free breakfast program. “The number of students in Newark who eat breakfast in school has tripled. Absenteeism has fallen in Los Angeles, and officials in Chicago say children from low-income families are eating healthier meals, more often.”
New York City, however, is wary to instill this program because they feel “double-dippers” will take advantage, and add to the obesity epidemic.
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