Some Evanston/Skokie School District 65 parents are upset about proposed rules that would for the most part ban foods that aren’t commercially prepared from school events.

At a meeting Thursday night parents complained that the policy goes against efforts to provide more fresh and locally grown foods for students and would restrict efforts to let children sample food grown in school gardens.

At the meeting, according to a report in the Daily Northwestern, school board member Sunith Kartha also claimed that a state law prohibits potluck dinners in schools.

In fact the state law, 410 ILCS 625/3.1, bars state or local health department regulation of potluck dinners that are not held on public property.

The law was adopted in 2004 after church groups and community organizations in rural areas of the state complained about health department attempts to shut down their potluck dinners.

It appears to leave it open to health departments how they might choose to regulate such events on public property.

In an email to Evanston Now, parent Susan Hespos said the proposed policy appears to be motivated “by fear of what could happened instead of on the scientific facts and the experience of having fed children food from home kitchens for decades with no measurable ill effects.”

“It strikes me as over the top that bake sales are considered dangerous,” Hespos said, and that potlucks would be forbidden.

As discussed Thursday night, the proposed policy would also require that parents wishing to serve fresh fruits and vegetables at a school event would have to deliver them to the school district’s nutritional services office a day in advance for processing.

Three years ago a controversy arose after several people attending a parent-teacher event at Haven Middle School became sick after eating food served there.

That food was prepared by a local restaurant, but the restaurant owner, facing a lawsuit, said it was carryout food that had been mishandled once it was taken to the school, rather than catered food that the restaurant would have been responsible for.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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