While most of us were fixated on the presidential campaign, one parent from Duxbury, Massachusetts was busy fighting a campaign of her own: a battle against nutritional Big Brothers on her local school board. Betsy Hunter, whose daughter attends Chandler Elementary School in Duxbury, launched a petition drive to overturn the board’s decision banning the age-old tradition of sharing cupcakes and other assorted sweets on kids’ birthdays. Unfortunately, Duxbury’s puritanism is hardly unique. In the last year alone, schools in Texas, Connecticut, and Massachusetts have instituted similarly ridiculous bans on sweets in an effort to curb childhood obesity.
“We’re more or less talking about kindergarten through second grade,” Hunter says. “They still need a little fun.” Apparently, the school board didn’t agree. For all of Hunter’s efforts (she collected more than 200 signatures from like-minded Chandler parents), the board rejected her bid to repeal the ban on sweets. Dismissing Hunter as an irrational and overly emotional parent, board member Jenny O’Neal contemptuously remarked: “The subject is about much more than a cupcake. And it has much more to do with emotions on the part of the parents.” Now birthday boys and girls will celebrate with a “special seat cover” and birthday sash. Doesn’t that sound fun?
Another ridiculous idea comes from Lowell, Massachusetts’s David Watson. In an interview in the Lowell Sun, Watson said:
Celebrations are fine, he says, but why are they marked with high-fat, high-calorie treats? “It’s nutritionally inappropriate, but a lot of it has to do with the message it sends.” Why not, he suggests, donate a book to the school library in the name of the child who turns a year older?
The most horrifying example of the movement to regulate, control, or outright outlaw school snacks and sweets comes from Texas, where self-described “food Czarina” and Texas Agricultural Commissioner Susan Combs issued a unilateral edict banning certain foods from all public schools in the state. Combs barked in a column “Stop. Step away from the junk food.“