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.