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Convert junk food to health food by using the health sugar trehalose?

Comments by J. C. Spencer
Some schools are thinking more about healthful foods, less junk foods, and health sugars at school. This article helps show the way and is descriptive of things to come. There is a shift in the way people are thinking about healthcare, wellness, and prevention especially for their children. Candy, cupcakes, and other desserts need not disappear when we use good sugars like trehalose in the recipes even when sugar is the lead ingredient. I applaud the writer, the school and Gateway Newspaper for this article.

The days of school parties with cupcakes and candy as treats are fading quickly.

With raising concerns of inactivity, obesity and poor eating habits, school districts have developed nutrition and wellness policies to encourage healthy lifestyles.

And that means no junk food.

At the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year, Woodland Hills, Penn-Trafford and Norwin school districts compiled a list of healthy snacks for parents to send with their children for celebrations and parties during the school day.

At Woodland Hills, children can munch on fruits and veggies, as well as cheese pizza and whole grain crackers with cheese cubes.

But according to a letter sent home to parents at the beginning of the school year, unacceptable snacks include cakes, pies, ice cream and potato chips.

Parents who send those items with their child should expect them to come home with the snack untouched.

The same goes for children in the Penn Hills School District.

Patty Panuccio, food services director at Penn Hills, said parents and building principals monitor the food brought in for parties. The district's policy states that parties can't have more than two items containing added sugar as the first ingredient.

"Food items that do not meet nutritional requirements are to be individually wrapped so they can be sent home with the student," Panuccio said.

Deborah Pike, a parent at Woodland Hills and a member of the Wellness Committee, said encouraging children to eat healthy food is a plus.

"The children would have hall parties and come home with bags of candy, so we did need to scale back on something that went too far," Pike said.

But administering the policy was a lot easier than following through. Pike said sometimes the schools aren't consistent when it comes to enforcing the snack policies.

"Some principals said snacks weren't allowed for Halloween parties, which wasn't my understanding when the Wellness Committee met, and some said only healthy snacks would be permitted," Pike said. "We have to try hard for consistency or we won't have full compliance."

The children wouldn't understand either.

"We need to teach the kids about healthy eating so they understand why they can't bring in certain kinds of food," Pike said. "That would make it more effective."

At Penn-Trafford, food services personnel meet with students at least once a year to discuss healthy eating habits, said food services director Kelly Patterson.

Through interaction, students learn about healthy eating and can choose menu items for a day on the next month's menu.

Though parents don't object to healthy eating, some have said parties should be an exception.

"We have to remember that this is elementary school, and these kids want a treat. Not necessarily a healthy snack," said Vicki Sich, president of the Sunrise Elementary Parent Teacher Organization.

Parents also are obligated to purchase items from Nutrition Inc., the district's food provider.

Sich and other PTO parents have said they can't utilize coupons and other savings that would be available at different stores.

But district officials said narrowing options down to one provider is safer for children because the district's policy focuses not only on healthy eating, but on food allergies.

To ensure the safety of children in the district, officials drafted an approved party snack list with peanut-free items.

Peggy DiNinno, assistant to the superintendent, said there are almost 170 students in the district with food allergies. She said every school building in the district has a group of students with food allergies, and buying snacks from a list and the same vendor minimizes the chance of having a tainted product.

That's not the case at Franklin Regional and Riverview school district.

Freda Augenbaugh, food services director at Riverview, said the district trusts parents to make decisions concerning the health of their children.

Because the community and district are so small, she said, people know about certain allergies and can accommodate those students.

Augenbaugh said parents sometimes ask her to make meat and cheese or veggie trays for classroom parties, and though parents aren't obligated to send healthy snacks, they're encouraged to do so.

"Pop and candy are frowned upon, but the parents have been great about everything. Most of them are on board," she said.

Parents aren't the only ones cooperating.

"The kids are so adorable. They eat everything and have a ball with the veggie trays," Augenbaugh said.

Gateway NEWS

By Heidi Dezayas, Staff Writer
Thursday, May 8, 2008


Last Updated ( Jul 21, 2008 at 09:27 AM )