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Letter to the Editor: Proposing a ban on treats in the classroom

With classes resuming, I am writing to encourage our schools to adopt policies that ban or limit celebratory treats.

Many Minnesota schools have already led the way by adopting such policies.

Young children are establishing eating habits that become engrained and may last a lifetime. Parents are trying to instill healthy eating habits in their children. Teachers are educating students about healthy eating and nutrition. Meanwhile, students are exposed to a steady stream of unhealthy treats at school including cupcakes, ice cream, cookies, brownies, candy, and donuts. Treats have become so common in schools they are no longer special.

Teaching about proper nutrition and then regularly offering unhealthy treats is like teaching our children not to smoke and then offering them a cigarette - it sends very conflicting messages.

Not only are there many sound health related reasons to keep food treats out of the classroom, such as food allergies, food sensitivities, childhood obesity, diabetes, and dental health, but classroom treats and the associated celebrations take up valuable teaching time and create pressure on parents and students to participate and reciprocate. Some families may not be able to afford treats for the whole class. And treats are not necessary; there are many other ways to recognize special occasions without food.

Allowing outside treats into the classroom may have started innocently enough, but it has gotten out of control, and while a ban may seem drastic, something needs to be done.

For parents who wish to provide treats for their children, I encourage them to do so in a way that does not impose on the wishes of other parents. For example, please pack special treats in your child's lunch, or take them to Dairy Queen.

David B. Patchett