“Stop. Step away from the junk food and listen carefully. We Americans are overweight, and it’s because we eat too much of the wrong stuff.” So begins a seemingly typical column by a card-carrying member of the food police. But this food cop is the commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture, and she has unilaterally instituted a new, sweeping policy for treats in schools.
The new rules are so expansive that “a long list of prohibited foods” can no longer be “used during school parties, fund-raisers and give-a-ways.” Think doing away with bake sales is bad? It gets worse. Kids who are sent to school with gummy bears will be prevented from distributing them to their friends. “Candy and soft drinks cannot be shared with other students,” one paper reports.
Thomas Hicks, principal of Walnut Creek Elementary in Azle, Texas, sent a letter to parents last Thursday, instructing:
Until further notice birthday or any other classroom treats will need to be purely nutritional and as free of sugar as possible. Fruit such as apples and vegetables served with cheese could be a nutritional alternative to birthday cupcakes piled high with sugared icing. (Click here to read the full letter.)
The letter explains that the new state-wide policy will also cover “carbonated drinks, frozen flavored ices (sicles), chewing gum, and candies (including hard candy, jellies and gums, marshmallow, fondants, licorice, spun candy, and candy coated popcorn).”
Slapping these ridiculously broad prohibitions on the occasional treat is especially silly when you consider that the American Heart Association argues that there are no “good foods” and “bad foods.” Even NYU’s Marion Nestle, the commissioner of the food police, says that “any food is reasonable.”