School says no to cakes, cookies

by Celia Shortt

Brooks Elementary School in north Coweta has changed its policy for birthday snacks and is not allowing cupcakes, cookies, or cake to be brought in this school year because of safety reasons and the desire to create a positive environment for students.

Dr. Julie Raschen, principal at Brooks, said in the past, approximately 10 percent of Brooks’ students have had a food allergy, with the most common ones being peanuts, gluten, strawberries and blueberries.

“When parents have brought in goodies for birthdays, oftentimes these children are not included in the snack because of dietary restrictions and have felt left out,” she said. “Parents can still send in treats for their child's birthday, we just ask that they not be food items.”

“Although our first priority above all else is the safety of our students, we are also trying to create an environment in which all students feel included and not singled out,” she added. “So both safety and a positive environment for all students were the reasons for this change.”

Information sent out to fifth grade students said these changes were due to “new dietary restrictions” and new national health/food regulations. The same information also said students were not allowed to bring snacks. Raschen clarified and corrected both items.

“This a school-based decision due to the high number of students with significant allergies at Brooks,” she said. “It was done to help us protect students from receiving baked goods that we could not ensure ingredients and cooking utensils were safe from allergens. It did not come as a result of any national requirement about food.”

Raschen did say there have been some changes to national food guidelines, but those only pertain to foods the school sells and the requirements for fundraisers.

“Students may bring any food they choose to personally eat for lunch or snack,” she said. “The only thing we are limited in is requirements for fundraisers.”

Fifth grade teachers will be sending home a letter with students on Wednesday to clarify any confusion.

Dean Jackson, public information officer for the Coweta County School System said this type of procedure is different in every school, but each school’s allergy needs are different. They create the procedure which works best with their student population.

He also said this new policy at Brooks does not apply to holiday celebrations or snacks.

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