Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

October 18, 2012

Healthy snack rules enforced in schools

Don’t expect to see any candy handed out in the Andover classrooms this Halloween season.

Superintendent Marinel McGrath sent a letter home to parents Tuesday that makes it clear Andover supports the new state nutrition standards that outlaw home-baked goods from being distributed, and establishes a list of nutrition guidelines for group snacks.

The new state rules mean the end of children celebrating their birthdays by bringing in cupcakes for all their classmates. But the rules do not mean mom or dad can’t pack a cupcake in their children’s lunch bags.

“We’re not monitoring their own packed lunch. They can’t bring in a cupcake for [others],” said Rita Casper, nursing director. “We can’t tell a parent how they can feed their child.”

The new standards do not apply to school breakfast and lunch programs, which remain regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture. The standards apply to food that will be served anywhere else in the school building or grounds during school hours, or during the 30 minutes before and after the school day.

Under the new regulations, all food offered in classrooms or by clubs must come prepackaged from a commercial kitchen; have less than 35 percent fat; contain fewer than 200 calories and 200 mg. of sodium per serving; have no transfats, artifical sweeteners or flavors, and contain fewer than 14 grams of sugar.

The regulations effectively will end the practice of serving ethnic food as part of a social studies course, for instance, since the food would need to come prepackaged and meet all these nutritional requirements.

“It’s not going to be easy [to do that],” acknowledged Casper. “My recommendation would really be to look at non-food alternatives to talk about, learn about a culture. Whether it’s music or art or storytelling, try to depict the culture in a different way.”

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