For District 64 officials, students’ health trumps treats
Updated: July 23, 2012 6:15AM
It could soon become official that children are no longer able to bring treats to school during class parties in Park Ridge-Niles District 64.
The first reading of a policy was approved by the District 64 Board of Education earlier this month. The measure will be up for final approval June 25.
Superintendent Philip Bender said the majority of district schools already have been practicing the measure, but board adoption would make it official.
“A number of schools have opted to get out of the treat piece and move parties more towards a creative type of an event, instead of an eating event,” Bender said.
Bender said medical conditions, such as peanut allergies, are a concern to district officials. Some students have diabetes, and school administrators must count every calorie those children consume during the day.
In a previous position in a different district Bender said a student with a peanut allergy had a severe allergic reaction to a peanut product at school and died.
“We just can’t take the risk,” said Bender, adding that during lunch time there are peanut-free areas of the cafeteria.
Some parents have expressed their feelings that the policy would be stealing something from their children’ childhood.
“A lot of people wish we could still do what we did in the old days,” Bender said. “I remember years ago telling schools it’s a cultural shift.”
In addition to trying to avoid allergic reactions at school Bender said the district has been moving toward healthy snacks as part of its wellness program.
Bender explained at the June 11 school-board meeting that the idea that every party has to have treats, such as cupcakes, is a part of our culture and a national trend that we should move away from. He said it has contributed to childhood obesity.
District 64 schools with younger children allow parents to provide a healthy snack, such as fruits or vegetables, during the school day to help students make it through the day.
At the board meeting, board President John Heyde asked if the PTOs were aware that officials were considering a policy change.
Heyde was concerned parents would be upset if they didn’t have much warning about a policy change that would be voted on within a couple of weeks.
District officials explained that most parents have already not been bringing treats in for parties, especially homemade goods, so it wouldn’t be much of a change. Heyde said he felt better to hear that it is something that is already being practiced in most schools. He said he was not concerned with the policy itself.