School District Could Limit Students' Sweets

Many campus celebrations would lose their sugar

By Rory Devine
|  Tuesday, Jun 7, 2011  |  Updated 9:43 PM PDT
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School District Could Limit Students' Sweets

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School District Could Limit Students' Sweets

Healthy celebrations may become the norm in the Santee School District.
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How many sweets does your child eat at school?

Do you even know?

After all, there are numerous occasions to celebrate with cupcakes and candy -- whether it's a birthday or an awards day.

On Tuesday night, the Santee School District is taking steps to make sure parents know exactly when the food celebrations will take place -- and how many.

The school district is deciding to limit the number of food celebrations to five per year.

Lisa McColl, principal of Rio Seco Elementary School in Santee, says the number of food celebrations was getting a little overwhelming.

“You look at holidays like Valentine’s Day or Christmas or Easter or Halloween when all that extra food is coming in," McColl said, "and we also have our student of the month assembly which turns into an opportunity for refreshments, and we do have spirit days and jog-a-thons.”

Not to mention birthdays for each child.

The District says it does what it can to encourage healthy eating at school -- efforts that can be undermined by so many food celebrations.

But Joe Spencer, a parent, says by limiting the number to five, which likely will be holidays, the District effectively is eliminating birthday celebrations. He says there is an average of two a month.

“That’s a day to celebrate, especially (in) kindergarten (or) first grade," Spencer said. "I think there has to be a point where you let them be kids and let them feel special. To me, it goes down to two in a month. That's not making a difference.”

Dr. Patrick Shaw, the District’s superintendent, says the celebrations will continue but without food.

“The teacher may do something different," Shawn said. "Maybe the student will be first in line for lunch because it's their birthday.”

Spencer says the District would be more effective in changing students’ eating habits by looking at what it is serving in the cafeteria. Even though the food meets federal guidelines, Spencer says every school district needs to make changes so children are not trained to eat pizza and hot dogs.

The District says it has made considerable gains over the last few years in that area, providing salad bars and low-sodium, low-fat foods.

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