The Evanston District 65 School Board Monday night approved a policy that bans serving homemade treats at school events, including birthday parties, and forbids teachers from using food as incentives or punishments.

The district Wellness Council revised the existing wellness policy to “reduce the risk of food borne illness and create healthy snack options” for students, said Stephanie Abudayeh, district music teacher and co-chair of the Wellness Council.

Abudayeh said that the new food policy guidelines are consistent with regulations by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services that “prohibit foods and beverages that have been prepared from home, due to the potential risk they pose.”

The guidelines specify that all food and beverages provided to students during the school day or at school-sponsored events must be commercially prepared, ready to eat, wrapped in the original packaging and with a list of ingredients provided. Fruits or vegetables must be whole and intact, washed at a designated prep sink or commercially prepared.

These guidelines do not apply to lunches and other food prepared for an individual student by a parent or guardian.

The policy includes a list of healthful food and beverage options for school functions, suggestions for non-food celebrations in school and non-food fundraising ideas

Anya Tanyavutti, board vice president, said that the policy could “come off as colonial,” with the school defining what wellness is. “If the policy implies that food eaten at home is not acceptable at school, how does that get internalized,” she said.

Board member Lindsay Cohen asked how to avoid “food shaming,” looking for ways to respect food culture while moving to wellness.

“Controlling access to nutrition has been used as a lever in racist systems,” Tanyavutti said and asked how teachers would talk about this policy to make sure it was not perceived that way.

Board President Sunith Kartha asked the Wellness Council to include an explanatory introduction addressing the board’s concerns.

The policy was approved by the board in a 7-0 vote.

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  1. Dist 65 Board: “food shaming” more important than kids dying
    Are these Board members serious? The policy could “come off as colonial”? “Food shaming”? “Controlling access to nutrition”?

    None of these things could possibly happen if you actually read the policy. It is being implemented for safety reasons. SO PEOPLE DON’T GET SICK.

    Kids can still bring whatever they want for lunch. The policy only applies to classroom/public/community-based events organized by the district. Nobody is “controlling access to nutrition.” Nobody is “food shaming.” There is no “colonial” power coming in to dictate anything. They are simple guidelines in line with food safety and public health guidelines that have been developed by professionals at state and federal agencies.

    It shouldnt be a surprise coming from this clueless board, for just a few weeks ago, Tanyavutti claimed that we should ignore “data” because it is “western.” This Trump-style anti-science nonsense coming from the school board is troubling.

    It is unfortunate that we just had elections and that none of the District 65 seats were contested. This board is operating in their own reality. And that could be very harmful to the community in a variety of ways.

  2. Perhaps it’d be best to be
    Perhaps it’d be best to be consistent. Let’s take a closer look at the “healthy” lunch menu. Pizza is a regular & lots of empty carbs every day = room for improvement.

  3. Cookie Monster needed in D65

    The Cookie Momster sholud patrol D65 schools for contraband.

  4. Food as a reward

    Finally! Thank you! My now-adult child was given hard candy in second grade whenever she answered questions correctly! Because she often knew the answers, she was pumped with sugar all day. I challenged this, but the teacher resisted. He has since been discredited and no longer teaches.

    The constant treats continued. I was joined by other parents (including a doctor) who asked that children not be given sweet rolls, etc. after church and before Sunday School. Since they had already had breakfast, there was no need to eat again. We were told that unless treats and snacks were offered, children would resist attending. Junk food was supplied purely to bribe them.

    This also happened after soccer games. Young children didn’t need sugary sports drinks after a very mildly-aerobic game. They didn’t break a sweat and stood in the field much of the time. 

    Is it any wonder that the CDC says almost 40% of adults are obese? Food at school should be nutritious fuel, not a reward or punishment. The Health Department guidelilnes should be followed. When the City holds events in their buildings, they don’t allow food to be brought from home. It’s a food safety issue.

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