Local Advocacy Opportunity: Clark County School District Wellness Regulation 5157 (Proposed Changes)

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I wanted to share this even though it is aimed more to folks here in Clark County, Nevada than the general internet.  An e-mail from FAPE (our local Food Allergy Parent Education Group, click here for upcoming events on their website) alerted that some promising changes have been proposed (spearheaded by Food Services) to rules in the district that involve treats in classrooms and food rewards.  The proposed changes might not pass, however.  Here’s a run-down of some of the changes the district is looking at making (I’m most excited about the fifth one on my list):

  1. Adding a requirement that there be no trans fats in food and beverage choices offered to students.
  2. Specifying that foods offered by student stores, sports teams, the PTA, kiosks, and vending machines must be approved if they are offered an hour before school starts through half hour after the end of the school day.  The approved list is provided by the district’s Registered Dietician.  Also, outside vendors can’t sell things during the school day – student run events selling food items essentially would have to be run by students and any vending contracts would have to be approved by the district’s legal counsel.
  3. Furthermore specifying that: “All food sold or given away must be commercially prepared.  NO homemade food may be sold or given away to students from one-half hour before school starts until one-half hour after the end of the regular school day.”
  4. A provision exempting the following activities from the nutrition guidelines but not from the “no homemade food” requirement: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day activities as well as school wide recognition parties (limited to no more than four occurrences per school year).
  5. A mandate that: “Teachers should not use foods or beverages, especially those that do not meet specified nutrition standards, as rewards for academic performance or good behavior.”
  6. Though “FAAN” is now “FARE,” an explanation in the text of the Wellness Regulation that states: “The Food and Anaphylaxis Network supports the restrictions on homemade food due to the great threat of anaphylaxis when exposed to allergens.  The School Nurses have worked to promote this policy within our Clark County School District.”
  7. Fines will result from violation of the State of Nevada Wellness Policy and USDA Wellness Regulation (through the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010) and will be the liability of the violating school.

I uploaded a highlighted version of the provisions provided by FAPE in case you’re like me and prefer to read rules in context but the list above is promising.  I’d love to see provisions moving classrooms away from food incentives not just for children with food allergies but for the health of all children.

A friend of mine has been wrangling with some backlash (at skittlegate.blogspot.com, you can also read about it here) from advocating against food rewards in classrooms (in an area in Virginia where the rules already provide that the incentives are discouraged) in case you want to get a preview of the arguments people are likely to make here in Clark County against such a provision.  If you’ll recall, Virginia is at the forefront of the stock epinephrine movement so if people are resisting changes over there I think it would be prudent for those of us in Southern Nevada to front load support of these wellness provisions.

Remember that the homemade food points cover food sold or given away at school but kids would still be able to bring their own food from home which I totally support.  (The school my daughter goes to right now for preschool doesn’t allow outside food even as snacks and that means she can’t go to class more than a few hours before I bring her home to eat so I wouldn’t be advocating anything like that for the district.)  This is really about giving clear guidance to schools.

So, here’s the call to action: contact the district deputy superintendent and associate superintendent to voice support for the changes if you would like to see them adopted in the Clark County School District.  The District has been really working hard to address food allergy concerns but the community has to support them.  I know we’re all busy but how about a post card (or two)?

Pat Skorkowsky
Deputy Superintendent
5100 W. Sahara Ave., 4th floor
Las Vegas, Nevada   89146
(799-5475)

Jeremy Hauser
Associate Superintendent
2298 Vegas Valley Dr.
Las Vegas, Nevada  89169
(799-1222)

If you do send a note over or make a call, please share what you did in the comments.  Thank you!

7 Comments

  1. Good post Homa. It will be interesting to see if parents believe the policy is in response to food allergic parents of if they’ll see the real reason: State Wellness policy. Many schools in CA ditched no homemade foods moons ago and now the kids are tired of those Walmart cupcakes…which is a good thing. I personally love the rewards, something fun to do, like a dance party or games. That is much more interactive and fun.

    Please keep all of us posted as you go through this process!

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      • Thanks. Please keep me posted. I am trying to convince people (primarily some parents) at my daughter’s elementary school that we shouldn’t be relying on food as a primary reward tool. Not only is it a struggle for parents,, such as me, who have a child who cannot eat certain foods, but also those who have children who are dealing with weight issues, medical conditions requiring a controlled diet, hyperactivity after eating sugar, etc. For these children we have now affected their self-esteem by offering a food reward that not everyone can enjoy. We have effectively singled-out these children, through no fault of their own, by offering a reward that is not a reward for all.

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      • You are very right that the exclusion from a reward singles out children – the issues reach beyond children with food allergies and even to those that have other health issues as you mentioned. It certainly feels that the risks to their esteem and safety outweigh any arguments in favor of the rewards as teaching tools.

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  2. Pingback: Clark County School District Procedures/Guidelines for Managing Potentially Life-Threatening Allergies | Oh Mah Deehness!

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