LETTER: Don’t forgo nutrition in the name of choice

Editor, The Spotlight:

In the July 17 publication there was an article about recent changes to the BCSD food service program. In the interest of time, I will focus on just one particular issue mentioned that seems to be repeatedly misrepresented - personal choice.

We are all interested in helping our children and teens learn to navigate the world and make good choices. In defense of their decision to market unhealthy foods to our children, BCSD administration argues that they are marketing non-nutritious foods to provide students ‘more of the options that they want.’ My question is, since when is our public school system the place for our children to be marketed all temptations and ill choices available in society at large? The administration’s rationale simply does not line up with the multitude of limits and carefully selected choices that exist in our schools. For example, if a group of high school students, or even the majority, decide they want Friday’s off, is that something the school would consider? How about if they want to talk on the phone in class, or call each other derogatory names in the hall way, or not take PE? Are all of our school regulations and guidelines based on student’s personal interests? Obviously not. Why then, when it comes to a highly studied and important decision about child nutrition, would BCSD change their decision making process to what the administration claims to be the popular choice among students? Particularly disturbing is the districts sudden increased focus on personal choice when it benefits their own financial interests.

While it is important to respect and listen to what our young people have to say, health and safety decisions such as this need to be based on knowledge of child development, science and research that informs districts in establishing parameters that support students growth, development and academic success. In The Spotlight's July 17 editorial — Economics of the Lunch Line — the writer states, “expecting students to be insulated from temptations in this day and age is a pipe dream.” If we were talking about the street corner, or the mall, I might agree. But we are not. We are talking about our public school system. We parents love our children and teens and want to help them to grow into well functioning adults. Schools are one of few places that parents rely on to offer and promote- with limited exception- healthy choices, evidence-based choices,that will prepare them to go into the world and be strong, and smart and well.

BCSD, you have a responsibility to your students to adopt evidence based nutrition guidelines and to stop marketing unhealthy food to our children to make ends meet.

BCSD parent Colleen Carroll-Barbuto, Delmar

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