, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 20, 2008

Some parents say school candy ban goes too far

NEWBURYPORT — Some parents are finding a ban on candy that went into effect this past week at public schools too far reaching, but school leaders say they are committed to reshaping students' eating practices while under their supervision.

Superintendent Kevin Lyons said the rule applies not just to offerings sold on school grounds, but to what students are allowed to bring in their lunch boxes from home. And that's not sitting well with some parents like Jeffrey Allen, stepfather to two children attending school in the district.

"If a parent wants to give their kid a candy bar to bring to school, what right do they have to tell you what you can and cannot put in your child's lunch?" Allen said. "I don't believe they have that authority."

The ban is part of the school district's newly adopted wellness policy, which Lyons said was developed over the past year in an attempt to address the rising tide of childhood obesity and skyrocketing number of cases of childhood onset diabetes. While the policy won't officially be in place until January, the practice of being more careful with candy and sugary foods and educating parents on the policy will begin immediately, school officials said.

The multi-faceted policy was the subject of several public forums and was developed with the help of parents, administrators and teachers in the district, he said.

A recent survey of district parents found the majority supported ridding candy from the classroom, with many supporting the district's limiting of cupcake parties and food-based reward systems, Lyons said.

"Clearly lots of high sugar and high fat things coming into classrooms on a regular basis. I think most people would agree is not a good thing," Lyons said. "And having food be the center of every celebration needs to be rethought."

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