Snacks & Healthy Habits

Healthy Habits

In the Spring of 2011, the Burroughs Site Council agreed on the following resolution:

To further enhance Burroughs’ proactive approach to a healthy learning environment, we will be revitalizing our policy regarding food items in classrooms. Specifically, no food items can be brought for any celebrations or birthdays at school. Food, candy and/or beverages will not be used for rewards. Exceptions would include the school-wide pizza and ice cream parties at the conclusion of our annual Read-a-Thon.

Background…Burroughs is extremely committed to providing a school environment that promotes and protects children's health, well-being, and ability to learn.  As a community that acts in a consistently proactive way to consider school improvements, wellness is a topic which has already been embraced. Additionally, Minneapolis Public Schools District Wellness Policy, completed in 2007, aims to improve students' health and well-being by improving nutrition and increasing physical activity levels.

There are three elements of wellness that can be impacted by further augmentation:

1. Significant increase in life threatening food allergies among children under 18.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that food allergies among children under 18 have increased approximately 18% over the past ten years.
  • Foods that students are allergic to include:  peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, dairy, honey, eggs, citrus, seafood, and tomato products.  These are common ingredients in most foods which are very difficult to avoid and more difficult still to consistently detect safely on ingredient lists.
  • There is a social/emotional risk for children with food allergies when they cannot participate and enjoy something that all of their classmates are enjoying.
  • Many food items leave crumbs and residue in classrooms (on rugs, chairs, tables, counters) making the risk of cross-contamination for food allergies more significant in classrooms where children with food allergies spend a great deal of time.

2. Nationally, there is a public health crisis related to the escalating rate of childhood obesity.  It is estimated that between 21%-24% of all American children are overweight and an additional 16% - 18% are obese. According to the Mayo Clinic, childhood obesity can have complications for the physical, social and emotional well-being of children.

3. There may be a burden on some of the families of the Burroughs’ community who do not have the economic means to readily provide food items as treats or for activities within the classroom.  For those families for whom it presents an economic burden, there is resultant stress, and children have the potential to be left feeling awkward and/or uncomfortable that they cannot participate equally.

Classroom celebrations can be a magical, fun and exciting time for all students, faculty and the community at large.  Moving forward, those celebrations can be every bit as special and fun without the presence of food, toys or treats, and can do so while enhancing the wellness, safety and health of all students in our classrooms. For example, having a parent come in as a reader on your birthday creates a special memory.

 This proposal does not suggest that we remove food like peanuts and tree nuts from the lunchroom. The system currently in place in the lunchroom (a designated, peanut-safe zone) is effective for the safety of children with food allergies. As awareness continues to grow school-wide, additional consideration could be given to enhancing and reinforcing that lunchroom policy with educational posters and banners that are increasingly available for schools.
 

MPS Food in Classroom Policy (Regulation 6690c)

StarTribune May 4, 2011
http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/121006879.html