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Stoughton Schools Wellness Policy Limits Consumption of Food and Drink in Classroom

The updated Stoughton Schools Wellness Policy meets the mandatory nutritional recommendations of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Mass. General Law for the Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods and Beverages in Public Schools.

As Stoughton students head back to school September 5, they may be in for a "culture shock" school officials say.

Starting this school year, bleary-eyed high school students can't drink coffee in their first period classes (or in any of their classes for that matter); students can't sell mass amounts of candy for club fundraisers during the school day; and younger students will no longer have "popcorn Fridays."

These past traditions will become part of nostalgic school lore, kind of like making a call home from a school's payphone.

In an effort to meet the mandatory nutritional recommendations of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Massachusetts General Law for the Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods and Beverages in Public Schools, the Stoughton School Committee unanimously approved an updated Wellness Policy for the Stoughton Public Schools at its meeting on August 28.

This updated Wellness Policy will alter the way students throughout the school system will consume food and drink outside of the cafeteria, placing an emphasis on promoting healthy nutritional habits.

Competitive food and beverages are defined as food and drink provided in: school cafeterias offered as a la carte items; school buildings (including classrooms and hallways); school stores; school snack bars; vending machines; concession stands; booster sales; fundraising activities; school-sponsored or school-related events; or, any other location on school property.

According to the policy:

  • Students in grades 6-12 are not allowed to consume any food or drink, except water, at any time, in any area of the school other than the cafeteria. This means middle school and high school students are not allowed to bring in food or drink other than water into the classroom for consumption.
  • Snack is not allowed at the middle school and high school unless medically necessary.  In these cases, current medical documentation should be kept on file with the school nurse.
  • There will still be a snack time for students in grades K-5. Parents and guardians are encouraged to send a healthy snack to school.
  • There will be no sharing of food at any time during the school day.
  • The use of all food items as part of a student incentive or reward program is not allowed.
  • Distribution of food items (that do not meet nutritional guidelines) for consumption in classrooms is not allowed.
  • Classroom parties for holidays and other special occasions will not include food items. Birthdays may be acknowledged with non-food items.
  • All food related fundraising projects for sale and consumption by students are not allowed during the school day. The insertion of the "by students" leaves the door open for PTOs to hold bake sales on election days, for example.

"These standards," according to the policy, "shall apply to competitive foods and beverages sold or provided on school grounds 30 minutes before the beginning of the school day until 30 minutes after the end of the school day."

Additionally, the policy states:

  • Booster organizations, PTOs and school councils operating concessions at school functions after the instructional day must offer for sale at least two healthy food choices, including fresh fruit and non-fried vegetables. In fact, fresh fruit and non-fried vegetables must be sold at any location where food is sold, with the exception of non-refrigerated vending machines and vending machines dispensing only beverages.
  • The use of fryolators in preparation of food at any time in any school building is prohibited.

This policy limits the food and drink consumed in the classroom. However, students are still allowed to bring a lunch and beverage from home to be consumed in the cafeteria during the lunch period.

Plain, potable water will be "readily available" to all students during the school day, at no cost to the students.

Take a look at the full updated Wellness Policy in the media gallery.

SoxFan September 05, 2012 at 01:15 PM
This is way over the top. Taking away popcorn one day a week is going to fix something? No food for parties? Teens could use a snack, it may even help them focus. The only thing this will create is rule breakers.
Just Saying September 05, 2012 at 01:35 PM
This policy needs to be abolished!!! Big Brother, I mean the school commitee needs to vote to nullify this policy immediately. It's no wonder more and more families are homeschooling their children.
DJ September 05, 2012 at 01:40 PM
I'm completely supportive of these new guidelines. Soxfan, you know what helps kids focus? Physical Activity. Something they don't get near enough of which is proven by our countries increasing obesity rates. I'm mortified when I attend the high school BB games and witness the horrible, fatty, sugared foods being offered and eaten by our kids. No wonder they're in trouble and it will be the 1st generation that actually realizes a reversal in life expectancy over their parents. That fact alone should change your opinion.
Fiscal Conservative September 05, 2012 at 01:46 PM
The Nanny state is at it again. Although intentions are commendable, the premise that these restrictions will alleviate the obesity problem is foolish. The child is in a constant state of growth, nutririon is needed for proper development of the "whole" child. The body does need various nutrients, including some fats, for good health. What is lacking more than anything, in today's child, is vigorous daily exercise. Go back 20 - 30 years, children were far more active than today. Part of the problem is societal change and technology. There is less need to be active. Children's attitude is partly formed from adults. They see less active parents, so they are less active. Children, for the most part, can't "create" activities on their own, they way they could years ago. If it is not a structured, organized activity they are dumbfounded, don't know what to do. School's also lessen a child's activity, at the elementary level. There used to be a morning recess as well as an afternoon recess. The "old" days recess, for the most part, were outdoors. Now, because teachers don't want to stand in the cold, stupid temperature/wind or other moronic excuses are given for keeping children indoors. Heck, educated people know that activity, in the cold, is not harmful. It is actually beneficial. Why shouldn't children be allowed to play in snow, they can arrive to school dressed appropriately. (continued).
michd September 05, 2012 at 01:51 PM
This is a STOUGHTON School system rule!!! The new State law states what can/can’t be “sold” and/or “provided” in the schools. Nowhere at all in this new law does it state that children can’t bring food/drinks from home and have them in school. No where does it state that students are only to bring in water - Stoughton implemented this rule, not the state. We as parents need to make a stand and not tolerate such rules. Children, of all ages (including middle school/high school students) should be allowed snacks. Food is good for the brain! It helps students stay focused, alert, awake and able to concentrate. I don’t know many students that are wide awake enough to eat a hearty breakfast at 6am (prior to catching the bus or walking to school) and for those that are, I can’t image that they are hungry at the 10:45 lunch time (but my guess is that they are starving by 12:00 - long after their lunch period ended). What is wrong with this school system? Parents need to take a stand. I agree with Kevin, this ridiculous. Pretty soon students will be required to where army uniforms and instructed to act like soldiers. As it is, there is NO/minimal talking in the hallways, walk single file, minimal art work on display throughout the buildings and NO work on display at the middle/high school except for the entrance, No drinks other then water, No snacks throughout the day.... is this a prison system or a school system? There is something wrong here!
Fiscal Conservative September 05, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Activity, in cold weather, burns more calories. Metabolism increases with exercise. Sitting, indoors, throughout the winter months is foolish. Don't they play in the snow at home? Of course!! An active child is far more alert than the inactive one. This could lead to a better learning environment. The lack of activity of children, at the elementary level, is 3 fold: 1. Teachers, 2. Principals, 3. School Committee/Administration. These 3 areas, instead of limiting caloric intact should also encourage vigorous exercise by have recess out side through out the school year. Children can tolerate the elements, if dressed properly. Let them run in the snow, sled, build "forts" and knock them down. Allow them on playground equipment at recess. Its the adults who are responsible for the lack of activity during the school day, not the kids. Parents, contact the School Administration and DEMAND that your child(ren) get the vigorous activity they need to be healthy, during the school day. Diet, alone, will not make your child "fit". It takes many variables to do so. Diet, exercise, rest are all needed. DEMAND, DEMAND and don't let teachers who don't want to go into the cold because they may be "uncomfortable" (too bad for them). It's your child who benefits from the activity. Remember, the teachers WORK for YOU!!! Not the other way around.
DJ September 05, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Are you kidding me? Your kids aren't awake enough to eat breakfest, maybe they should be going to bed earlier. The school system hasn't changed, parents have. We were never allowed to eat snacks or drinks in school outside of morning and lunch sessions. Fiscal Conservative, your correct about lack of exercise, but don't be blaming that on lazy teachers. It's the parents who send their kids to school under and inappropriately dressed. It's been parents, not unlike the one above, complaining that their kids shouldn't be out in the cold, the snow, or made to do much of anything they don't want. Michelle is already to fight a war over popcorn rights. Twisted sense of rights. Facts are kids eat too much and too much is processed foods with higher salt, sugars and fats then anything we ate in the past. Couple that with inactivity and you get obesity, diabetes, heart disease.......there is no arguing these facts. The schools should be applauded for finally turning their policies back to a time when life was healthier and yes, stricter too. Some people just can't be pleased.
Just Saying September 05, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Yes, there is something wrong -- the SCHOOL COMMITEE!!!
Just Saying September 05, 2012 at 02:18 PM
I hope that until this policy is nullified that the teachers, administrators and all other staff have to follow this ridiculous policy as well.
Fiscal Conservative September 05, 2012 at 02:20 PM
If a note were sent home, parents would comply. I've seen it in other school systems. Kids have a ball in the winter months when they go outside.
Fiscal Conservative September 05, 2012 at 02:39 PM
DJ: Don't take this wrong, not intended negatively. I have taught elementary school in 3 school systems of which I've seen the full financial spectrum. Two of the 3 allowed children outside until the Temps got to ZERO. Children, both wealthy and not so wealthy, all arrived in proper clothing. Very rarely was recess indoors. Teachers were on duty, outside with the kids. Many of the teachers were as activity as the students. Not only was recess outdoors, so wasn't Physical Education. Skating (on temporary outdoor rinks, built by parent volunteers), snowshoeing and cross country skiing are part of the curriculum. The two communities that had outdoor activities, throughout the year, had a lower absentee rate throughout the year. It can be done. It should be done. Heck, when I went to elementary school in the late 40's - early 50's, recess in Stoughton was hardly ever indoors. Times have changed, not always for the better.
michd September 05, 2012 at 02:45 PM
DJ, I think you are missing the point. I am for the schools implementing healthy, nutritious food, snacks and drinks. I am against the school system telling me that my children can only have water! The school can sell what ever they want, I don’t care, it’s my choice to send my children to school with lunch money or to pack a lunch from home but don’t tell me that my children can’t go into school with Gatorade (which has electrolytes), Carnation instant breakfast (which is a beverage loaded with vitamins), hot chocolate, or even coffee for our high school students and then to set up 30 minute before/after school guidelines. The laws and guidelines that were implemented by the state was for the “SALE” of items, no mention at all about being brought into school from home. Also, STOUGHTON not the State implemented a rule to ban ALL snacks when celebrating a holiday or Birthday. No more cupcakes to celebrate elementary students birthdays, no more snacks can be brought in by parents for holidays (Valentine’s Day, Halloween). The Massachusetts Law states that schools can not provide them but does not state that parents can not provide them, Stoughton decided to ban parents from that! There is something wrong! Children can no longer be children in the Stoughton School system.
DJ September 05, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Hey FC, not offended at all. For some reason my last post which completely agreed with you, was not posted? I am a complete proponent of physical activity. I do however see kids sent or allowed to go to school without even outerwear on in mid winter. No hats, no gloves and not even coats. I'm also keenly aware of parents who have complained not only on these boards, but to the schools that their children should not be forced to spend recess outside in the cold. I can tell you that similar to your anecdotes above, the Dawe school takes full advantage of outdoor activity during recess and I assumed the rest of the schools did same.
Fiscal Conservative September 05, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Michelle: It's time people stand up to the Nanny State. If they don't take action, soon everything will be dictated to residents. Then again, the majority of people are beginning to depend on Big Brother. The days of Self Reliant people are dwindling, allowing those in power, to control almost every aspect of people's lives. Me, my days are growing shorter, far more behind me than in front of me. Big Brother won't control what I can/cannot do. I won't allow it. I can fight back, and will. I have pride (may be foolish pride), but, I do for myself. The younger generation I feel bad for. We can see that they are dependent on others to do for them, tell them how they should live. I wish they had the knowledge to fight back. Every culture, in history, has collapsed. The Founders called our society "the Great Experiment". They really didn't believe that it would last (they hoped it would). As with other cultures, ours is now collapsing. Its true, we never learn from history, it just keeps repeating itself.
Honestly September 05, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Since when is popcorn an unhealthy snack? I'm guessing there are less healthy alternatives packed in the lunch boxes this Friday.
Fiscal Conservative September 05, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Honestly: You didn't know when Popcorn became unhealthy? Everyone knows that if Govt says its unhealthy, it truly must be. You know, those in power know everything, especially telling us what is good for our well being. They're are only looking out for us, we're really incapable of doing so for our selves. Just ask them, they're more than willing to tell you so.
Scott M September 05, 2012 at 05:59 PM
My kids, like a hundred others, stay after school for sports practice. I see no great evil in allowing them to pack a healthy snack and a drink for the end of the school day.
Dawn September 05, 2012 at 06:41 PM
While I do agree that obesity is becoming a problem, I don't believe that popcorn once a week as a snack, or a cookie or cupcake at a holiday party is to blame. It seems very unfair that they would ban it all, and not let the younger children have a little fun on a special occassion, once or twice during the school year. I think the older kids would benefit from a snack during the day to keep them focused. A lot of older children don't eat breakfast because of their bus coming much earlier in the morning. My kids fall into that group. It has nothing to do with them not going to bed early enough, they just are not early morning eaters. Not to date myself, but when I went to SHS and we had free periods in the cafe, there was a snack bar where you could purchase healthy and non-healthy snacks, from fruit, crackers, cookies, ice cream and shakes, and even sold coffee in the morning before school, and we turned out o.k!! No one forced you to choose, it was up to you to make the right choice. And a shake every now and then didn't hurt anyone! I just don't think it's right that the School Committee is making the choice for everyone. Parents should have been involved in the discussions.
mom2qts September 05, 2012 at 07:25 PM
I think you have the rule wrong. They can have all those things you just listed (Gatorade, Carnation instant breakfast, hot chocolate, or even coffee) they just can not bring them into class. I had a coffee this morning in the cafe and was only told to throw it out before entering the class room. I also had a Red Bull at lunch, again I was told I had to either finish it in the cafe or throw it away before going to class.
Jeffrey Pickette (Editor) September 05, 2012 at 07:34 PM
mom2qts, that is how the rule was explained for me as well. Students can bring food and drink from home, but it can only be consumed in the cafeteria - not in the classroom. If it's a bagged lunch, for example, the student would keep it in his/her backpack or locker until it was lunch time.
Dwight Mac Kerron September 05, 2012 at 09:01 PM
In general, would we agree that it is better for students to eat (whatever they are eating) in the cafeteria, not in class? Maybe if we start from that point, we can reach some kind of consensus a little more easily (boring as that might be.) ;-)
SoxFan September 06, 2012 at 12:16 AM
so, if a child has a birthday in school, and brings goodies, would it be ok if they had the party in the cafeteria? But, then there is the no sharing of food rule. Guess it's just tough luck if your friend forgets their lunch.
DJ September 06, 2012 at 12:55 AM
I know I said my peace, but I would like to expand given the follow up comments. 1st, Obesity isn't becoming a problem, it is one. 2nd. You don't have to be obese to be unhealthy, but it is typically a starting point. 3rd, The schools are not stopping students from bringing snacks to be eaten after school and prior to extracurricular activities. 4th, popcorn in and of itself is not unhealthy, but processed corn products are. 5th, Why should the schools be part of the problem? 6th, Schools exist to teach, not babysit and provide birthday parties. There is no way you can have one or two special occasion bday parties and be fair or focussed. Parents provide bday parties, not schools. 7. Don't claim your upset with the status and direction of public education then spend the majority of your efforts attempting to discredit authority over feeding and social habits of your child. If your kids don't eat breakfast, that is YOUR problem to be addressed by you as it is your responsibility for your child's well being. If you can't direct your child in this most fundamental way, why do you expect a school system to raise them to your poor and negligent terms?
Dawn September 06, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Wow, DJ, is there really a need to be so rude! I thought this was a forum to express personal opinions, not to be raked over the coals for them. I was only speaking from my experience and didn't imply that people should agree with me. Because my kids are not early morning eaters means that "I can't direct my child in a fundamental way, and that I raise them in poor and negligent terms" (your words). Really?? That is a totally unecessary comment, seeing you don't know me or my kids. I happen to have wonderful kids!! I was merely making a comment, and don't appreciate your sarcasim.
DJ September 06, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Your absolutely right Dawn. Please accept my apology. I'm frustrated that the schools are damned if they do and damned if they don't, but more on point, why is this even an issue to you? If your kids are in elementary school they are still allowed and encouraged to bring a healthy snack. For middle and high schools, the cafeteria is open for breakfast which would accommodate your child/children, right?
Heather September 06, 2012 at 09:32 PM
All school cafeterias in town now server breakfast, elementary, middle and High school.
michd September 07, 2012 at 12:33 AM
OUTRAGED! My children arrived home from school today to tell me that their teachers have Dunkin Donuts coffee as well as other beverages on their desk. If the students can’t have anything but water, why the hell do the teachers have to rub it in their face that they are allowed to not follow the same policy? Learn by example, this is a clear clase of “Do as I say not as I do”! I think it’s time to get the media involved in this....
Dawn September 07, 2012 at 02:16 PM
DJ, apology accepted. I know discussions on this board get heated, and I normally never comment, but I was merely making a statement, not a criticisim of the schools. You're right, some people will always be critical of the schools decisions, either way. I think what most people are upset about is that this came out of nowhere, with no discussion with parents (to my knowledge), and just a pre-recorded message on answering machines the day before school started. My oldest is in SHS and my youngest just started at OMS, so it's not a huge issue for me. I was just thinking back to how much they enjoyed their holiday parties in Elementary school, and didn't think that an ocassional treat should be such a big issue that they had to ban everything. I can understand why they don't want High School students walking around the halls with ice coffee. I honestly didn't even know that was allowed before the new rules. I fully appreciate that the schools are now making healthy lunches for the children. God knows, they weren't when I was in school. Never really knew what was under the breading in the clam roll!!
Fiscal Conservative September 07, 2012 at 04:52 PM
DJ & Dawn: It seems like those in charge are taking all the fun out of being a kid. I get upset because, we adults, seem to forget the enjoyment we had in youth youth. I enjoyed school so much, I always looked forward to spending time with friends and teachers. Now, it seems like the day is so regimented and structured by adults who want kids to grow up far too quickly. I have 3 grandchildren, I want them to stay "young & childish" as long as they can. Why should they enter "our world" too soon? Its not a very sane world, in adulthood. The hate, the crime and all the other crap. Do they really need it? Wish I didn't have to put up with it. Although, it is over 6 decades ago, I lovingly remember those days without a care, riding bikes, climbing trees, skating on ponds, drinking water from a garden hose, playing cowboys & indians, shooting BB guns, Bows & Arrows in the backyard, Hide & Go Seek, ball games with no organization by adults (we resolved our own problems). No TV until I was in 6th grade (we had to get up to change the channels: 2, 4, 5, 7, 10 & 12). State Theater Sat matinees: 3 movies & cartoon for 35 cents. Webster's Ice Cream. Now, it's a different world. I feel bad to today's young. Can't even enjoy a cupcake in school. Why? Adults know best. Do they really?
DJ September 08, 2012 at 12:17 AM
I don't dissagree, but none of your examples have anything to do with the schools. Kids today grow up faster in general due to advanced technology/communications both bringing them insight into adult themes they should not be exposed to and keeping them inside and immobile. It was the overzealous parent that created the superkid and terminated kids play and independence for fear of safety issues. They even removed Halloween for nearly a decade and made kids attend parties instead of walking the block. Kids were placed in structured team sports from exceedingly young ages and pick up games became obsolete. Club and Elite teams have actually taken precedence over high school sport. I can go on and on, but can think of very little to validate your argument that the schools attributed. I grew up in the 60's and 70's. We had a blast in school and out, but we weren't celebrating holidays in schools other then to either participate in music or assembly. Food was never part of the equation and we were still happy and having fun.

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