A school in Washington state has upped the ante on fighting childhood obesity by strictly regulating birthday and holiday treats in the classroom.
"Birthday parties in classrooms may be celebrated with non-food treats and favors for students. No food is allowed as part of a birthday celebration. Appropriate alternatives to food that may be shared on special occasions can be within the procedures," the school's website now reads.
The decision was made by the Edmonds School District's Wellness Committee that was created in response to new federal guidelines that require "superintendents to monitor nutritional standards for unregulated items such as food prepared by parent groups, vending-machine fare, student store offerings and classroom parties," The Herald in Everett, Washington, reported.
The rules are enforced by tying them to federal dollars offered through the school lunch program, which takes place against a broader controversy over childhood obesity and school lunch programs.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is using the leverage of the school lunch program to press local school districts to create local wellness programs, making funding contingent on compliance.
The decision follows on an article published last year in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior that found that "7.3 percent of schools prohibit sugary items during classroom birthday parties and 6.4 percent for classroom holiday parties" and that "one-third of schools discouraged sugary items, half of all schools either had no restrictions on party food or left the decision to the teacher."
Unfortunately, some of the kids not getting treats may also not be eating lunch.
"The nutrition association reports that since the new standards were put in place in 2012, more than one million kids have stopped eating school lunches. The association also said many students who still participate and are required to take the mandatory fruit and vegetable servings aren't eating them, resulting in $3.8 million of wasted produce thrown in the trash each day," USA Today reported earlier this month.