New Federal Food Restrictions Tighten Around J-DHS's clubs

By Jillian Risavi and Marie Saba

Staff Writers

Modern snacks aimed at children lack nutritional value, so says the federal government. So, in order to keep in line with federal government guidelines, Jamesville-DeWitt High School had to implement new, which have affected students and clubs.

Federal rules prohibit schools from selling items seen as unhealthy during school hours: or between 7:45 a.m. and 2:46 p.m. The law says a “healthy” snack is anything 200 calories or less, and meals have to be 350 calories or less. Besides calories the rules limit factors like fats, sugars and sodium count. To qualify as healthy, foods must be rich in whole grains, proteins, fruits and vegetables. Some foods that are accepted are: granola bars, dried fruit, yogurt and baked potato chips.These rules also contribute to the new portion sizes and more even amounts of each food group served in cafeterias for breakfast and lunch.

This seems to be a problem for clubs and the School Store. James Tuck, Outdoor Pursuits adviser, believes that the regulations will affect the schools fundraising methods, forcing clubs to become a bit more creative when it comes to food sales.                                     

Clubs used to sell things such as lollipops, cookies and cupcakes, but now with these new rules, those things are “forbidden during school hours,” said Umoja club adviser and Spanish teacher Simone Pacilio. Sra. Pacilio said they made a lot of money selling all of those “fun” things such as cookies and pizza.

English teacher Kristin Hardy, who teaches Corprate Communcations, feels the effects of the new regulations because she helps run the School Store. “We are used to selling chips and Gatorade, all these things kids want after school and now we can't sell those until 2:46.” This gives them a small time period to make a profit. Hardy thinks this is the only negative impact on the building, but she believes that everything concerning this will soon work out.  

Because of the new regulations, there is a large strain put on the clubs. Finding loopholes in what clubs can and cannot sell has seem to be the biggest problem. ESL teacher Kristine Wisnieski, Cultural Connections adviser, said, her club “just found other recpies that would fall under the guidelines.” This is also how most clubs dealt with the restrictions.

However, the main question is why is the government applying these restrictions on schools? Obesity seemed to be one of the main reasons given by most of the staff.“The belief is that if we can control what the students put into their bodies we can help them to A.) make better choices and B.) help them to be more healthy,” said Principal Paul Gasparini.  Maria DeJesus, adviser of Spanish Club, has a similar opinion. She thinks the government is trying to promote a healthier lifestyle.

Students agree with faculty on the cause of the regulations. “Obesity is an actual legitimate problem, ” said Dan McGann, Model United Nations officer. Another MUN officer, senior Tal Frieden thinks it is just part of Michelle Obama’s plan to make food healthier in schools. He believes it’s a way to avoid obesity for children. Many see the reason for these regulations and how they can be helpful, but are they necessarily required?

“I think for the betterment of health for our students it’s the easiest, (but) I don’t know if it's necessary,” said Hardy, “but it’s the best way and the easiest way for the government and the state to try to have a handle on what’s being eaten in schools.”

Mr. Tuck, however, feels differently about it. He thinks that “it’s ridiculous,” for several reasons. Tuck said that it is not right that they serve the same amounts of food to different sized people, due to these rules and regulations that changed portion sizes for meals. Tuck feels the amount “is not enough to get [my] energy for the day.”

DeJesus feels that obesity is a problem that should be handled at home and not at school. Therefore she doesn't see a need for these regulations.This seems to be a popular theme throughout the J-DHS staff.

In general the staff at J-DHS feel many many different ways. Many are overall are okay with the government's attempt to limit the amount of unhealthy food intake.