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School snack policy is no piece of cake

Rocky River

By Sue Botos

The snack policy at Goldwood Primary School has left a bitter taste in the mouths of some parents.

“There are a number of inconsistencies in the policy.  The administration can figure out how to feed allergy causing foods at ice cream socials and holiday parties,” Stacey Ganor told the school board, adding that when she asked to send along healthy snacks to kindergarten with her twin six-year-old sons, she was, in effect, told to “take a hike”.

Ganor, who along with her husband Jeff addressed the board at a December meeting, said that at the beginning of the school year, she sent a letter stating that her active sons needed a snack in the afternoon. She said that she received an impersonal, stock response denying her request. “The essence of the problem is that the policy does not balance the needs of all children. In a public school setting, this gravely works against their needs, Ganor told the board.

Although the afternoon kindergarten session runs for two and one half hours, with the addition of bus time, the Ganors said it amounts to their children being away from home between about 11:30 am and 4pm, calling for a very early lunch. “I can’t even go that long without food,” quipped Jeff Ganor after the meeting. His wife added that it was difficult to get the children to eat dinner because they come home ravenous and need nourishment.

The no snack policy was put in place do to the severe food allergies of a kindergarten student and the Ganors were under the impression that no students were nibbling in class. Then, one of their sons reported that this was not so. “He said every day at 2:00, the teacher rings a bell and the kids can eat snacks. I’ve been hot under the collar ever since,” Stacey Ganor stated, adding that those children without treats have to sit by while others ate.

While Ganor said she initially felt some resentment toward the family whose child has the allergies, she said she does want to support them. “I don’t want to cause problems,” said Ganor, stating that she wanted to address how the policy was applied. “This is why I’m talking to the board and not just sending snacks in as other parents have done,” she said.

“You need to enforce a revision of the policy,” she told the board, “needs are not being met.” She quoted information from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which stated that young children have to eat more often. “It’s not just my kids, this is real. The vast majority of kindergarteners are not having their needs met,” she stated.

Superintendent Michael Shoaf responded, “This paints the administration in a negative light. I would never say ‘take a hike’ and neither would (Goldwood Principal) Ms. (Jennifer) Norman. Shoaf admitted that the administration is not happy with the current policy, and said that there are about 15 children in the school who are picked up by their parents rather allowed to attend parties where food is served, due to severe allergies. He told the Ganors “We will be more than happy to accommodate you,” and urged them to speak to Norman.

Board members weighed in on the issue, which they agreed, should be revisited prior to the following year, when these children will be in school the entire day, and must bring a lunch. Jay Milano called the current policy catering to the needs of a “super minority”. “We’re not stopping ice cream socials because 15 kids can’t participate. Before we get too (far) we need to assemble some remedies.” Shoaf said that research had been done by the administration gauging how other districts have handled similar situations.

Board President Jean Rounds added, “We’re about the safety of the children. The little ones especially need their nutrition. The basic needs must be met.” Rounds also thanked the Ganors for bringing the issue to the board’s attention so that everyone can work together to arrive at a solution. “That’s what we are, a team. The balance is middle ground. We’ve been working on this for over a year and it’s not easy. I wish there were an easy solution.

 

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