B.C. parents are voicing concern that the province’s proposed changes to what food can be served and sold in schools go too far — targeting not only cafeterias but also essential fundraisers like bake sales.
The draft food guidelines unveiled this week put several foods commonly served at special lunch days and bake sales — including hot dogs, chicken nuggets, chips, cookies, popsicles, soft drinks and fruit juices — on a “foods to avoid” list. Other items like pizza and pasta would only be allowed if they are 100 per cent whole grain.
The guidelines push toward natural, non-processed foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as eggs, tofu and fresh or frozen proteins. Drinks are limited to water and unsweetened, low-fat dairy beverages.
Parents are being asked to provide feedback by April 30 on the proposed changes, which do not apply to meals students bring from home.
Richmond mother launches petition to extend school lunch periods
Cindy Daglish, a mother of two and president of the parent advisory council at Ecole Woodward Elementary in Surrey, says the new rules would impact parent volunteers who often organize food-oriented fundraisers out of their own pocket.
“The foods that they’re telling us need to be on there are expensive, especially over the last couple of years,” she told Global News. “And so it really excludes a lot of families from being able to participate.”
Ezra Miller arrest triggers emergency Warner Bros. meeting about actor’s future
Canada’s treasury ‘depleted’ as budget weans COVID spending, eyes uncertainty
Daglish says limiting what is and isn’t OK for students to eat — particularly given the dietary needs of individual kids — should not be the responsibility of schools.
“It’s food policing,” she said.
“We don’t want any food to be considered good food or bad food. We want to teach moderation. We want to teach healthy habits. And there is no curriculum around growing the food, or what does healthy eating look like, as part of our day-to-day curriculum.”
East Vancouver students learn to grow healthy food
The other worry, Daglish says, is how the proposed changes could impact school fundraising.
She says bake sales and other events like pizza lunches and freezie or popsicle days typically bring in around $20,000 annually for sports equipment and funding for libraries and music programs.
“As a parent, what we’re there to do is to celebrate and to build community within the schools. And this takes that ability away,” she said.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said Wednesday that the proposed changes are based on updates to the Canada Food Guide, which was revised in 2019 with an emphasis on healthy, natural choices.
He said the draft guide is also focused on reducing chronic illnesses in children, including diabetes, but admitted a balance will need to be struck.
“That’s why we’re sitting down and talking to parents about it,” he said. “We want to model good dietary behaviour. We want to model that in our school system. So that’s something that we’re absolutely going to work on together.”
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.