October 18, 2019 // Meeting Minutes
Topic: Food, Food Safety and Allergies, Snacks
We will be addressing a broad topic in this meeting
- food safety policies at the school
- policies on food that is brought in from home
- where the school is responsible
- making sure as a community that we don’t ostracize any children with allergies
Policies have been put into place to address these important issues, and have been for many years; they have now been revisited (without significant changes) and reworded
Parent handbook contains school food safety policy and allergy policy and should be read by all prior to the school year
Specific guidelines have been set and implemented for classrooms that have children with allergies (emails to parents in class prior to treats, food item lists, general parent awareness, extra attention to safety during lunch and snack etc.)
We must be respectful towards the nutritional differences and concerns of all the parents and families at the school and at the same time make the distinction between food safety and food preference
- No Trade Policy is in place and enforced at school and the children are very aware and mindful to respect this
- Smart Lunch provides options for healthy lunches (and some not-so-healthy lunches) – find sample lunches in newsletters and on their website
- Pizza Fridays – brainstorming alternatives and/or alternatives to having it on Fridays
OPEN DISCUSSION (Q= parent questions; T= parent thoughts; A= answer from administration):
Q: Why doesn’t SPS eliminate birthday food treats?
A: Back 20 years ago, birthday parties used to include party favors, balloons, presents, invitations, etc., all of which spiraled out of control; over the course of the years, the school hasn’t stopped having birthday treats, but parents have been informed that treats are voluntary and it is not necessary to bring in cupcakes, and that there are many alternatives out there (soft pretzels, fruit, etc.)
The school does not want anything material to be brought in by parents (i.e., party favors, stickers, little objects, etc.), because the school would have to then set specific parameters for the parents, and favors would lead to competition and monetary issues. Some parents would prefer (additional) material items were not brought into their homes.
We must recognize the individual child and family, and welcome snacks/treats that reflect differences and different food preferences and encourage variety
T: Reward system = food treat might be not the best association for something a child has done well in class?
A: Most classrooms, in fact each teacher has their own version of reward, such as little stickers, or has special routines on children’s birthdays; school to consider and brainstorm putting in place alternatives to school food item treats but also respecting families that wish to celebrate with a small food treat
Q: Some classrooms in ECD received emails from teachers when there are birthday treats; this has mainly been put in place for classrooms where children have allergies. Could this be a good idea for all families to receive email as a school-wide policy?
A: Well received and administration will discuss. PA will ask class parents to ask parents to speak to their child’s teacher before bringing food item into school
T: Some children really do care about birthday treats; some children inform parents of allergies; some classes do this very well, and are very mindful of other children.
T: Bite-size treats could be encouraged
Q: Would it be possible for parents to come in and participate in the special birthday moment (read books, or share a tradition?)
T: This is an interesting idea worth exploring; however it could also lead to competition between children, and pose problems for those working parents that can’t make it in that day
T: I like the notion that the special birthday treat is something that is dropped off at school and done during school time and that there is no parental involvement
T: Important to distinguish between concern over sugar and concern over allergy and safety: important to maintain this distinction.
Thank you to everyone for feedback, ideas, open discussion