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Apr 20, 2012 1:19 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Sag Harbor School Board Holds Off On Changes To Nutrition Policy

Apr 24, 2012 6:03 PM

The Sag Harbor School District last week, citing the need for further research, postponed a decision on whether to loosen its nutrition policy to allow foods containing sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup, to be sold in the schools.

Proponents say the policy change was intended to ensure that students without lunch money could still be served peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches without being turned away hungry. The jelly contains high fructose corn syrup, a highly processed syrup that has become a difficult-to-avoid staple of the American diet over the past few decades and has been blamed for a host of health ailments, including obesity.

But a majority of School Board members voiced concerns at a meeting last Wednesday night, April 18, that bringing back the sweetener would run counter to the district’s goal of teaching healthful eating. They suggested a mechanism could be put in place to better ensure that students who need them have access to free and reduced-price lunches.

A vocal group of parents objected to the change and has launched an online petition that has gathered 170 signatures to date.

“National research shows clear links between good nutrition and better student performance in classrooms,” the petition states. “The district has the responsibility to develop healthy minds and must also maintain and develop standards to promote healthy bodies.” It claims that allowing the non-nutritive sweeteners to be served in the schools will jeopardize students’ health and wellness.

The district’s current wellness and nutrition policy, which was revised just last November, states that foods or beverages containing non-nutritive sweeteners such as sucralose, saccharin, aspartame or high fructose corn syrup, as well as hydrogenated and trans fats, may not be sold in school meals. A proposed change to the policy would allow the sweeteners to be sold “at a minimum,” and those containing high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated and trans fats to be sold only if another product cannot be substituted for it. The same rules would apply to vending machine snacks.

School Board member Sandra Kruel, a proponent of the change, said the proposed policy change arose from district wellness committee discussions. The school chef, she said, has about seven children per day who show up without lunch money and whose parents are embarrassed because of it.

“The chef now says, ‘I’m sorry, we can’t serve jelly because it has high fructose [corn] syrup,’” Ms. Kruel told the board. “I don’t want to serve Snickers bars to every child who walks in. I don’t want to serve high fructose syrup in every single meal. But I don’t want the chef to sit there and have his hands tied because they can’t give the child a sandwich if they don’t have the money.”

Ms. Kruel added that certain “diet” beverages should also be available to some students, including those who have diabetes, for example.

Several parents in attendance questioned why turkey sandwiches couldn’t be the standby, instead of peanut butter and jelly, or whether a different vendor that sells jelly without high fructose corn syrup could be used. They also suggested coconut water as an alternative to so-called “diet” drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup.

Susan Lamontagne, a district parent who opposes the change, presented statistics on rising rates of obesity and other health ills linked to sweets and noted that good food is needed for good brain function. To emphasize her point, she dumped several packages of candies—M&M’s, KitKats, Twix and Snickers—on the table in front of the School Board.

“We’re worried about our kids’ standing, I know we all are. We want them to make it to college and be number one, and we all want the Whalers to win,” she said, referring to the district’s sports teams. “Well, I’ll tell you where our kids are going to be first. Our kids are actually, according to the [Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention], going to be the first generation that’s not going to live as long as their parents. So, if we want them to win at something, well, we’re doing a really great job of doing that right here.”

Other parents also spoke out strongly against changing the policy.

“I believe it’s the school district’s job to not only teach healthy, responsible choices, but to provide them and to set the best possible example,” said another mother, Allison Scanlon, who has three children in the elementary school. “I just don’t see any room for weakening the policy,” she said. “We don’t ever lower the bar in the environment of education. We need to keep the highest standard and practice it.”

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Seriously - Why not get some natural jam and let's move on. Welch's isn't the only company out there.
By bchgrl83 (52), Westhampton Beach on Apr 20, 12 3:47 PM
2 members liked this comment
Maybe everyone should have a specialty shop locally, wherever you live.

Isn't a more centralized infrastructure a bit more prone to disruption anyway?
By Mr. Z (10157), North Sea on Apr 20, 12 4:16 PM
The cooks could make the jam, you don't need a specialty shop.
By bchgrl83 (52), Westhampton Beach on Apr 20, 12 4:41 PM
2 members liked this comment
“I believe it’s the school district’s job to not only teach healthy, responsible choices, but to provide them and to set the best possible example,” said another mother, Allison Scanlon....

It starts at home, my dear. Quit expecting other people to do your damn job. You birthed them? You take care of them.
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Apr 20, 12 4:42 PM
It does start at home and I have gone above and beyond to teach good eating habits to my own children. I don't need that effort underminded at school. It's not an unreasonable expectation for a school system to practice what they preach. If you teach in the classroom don't smoke, you don't then go offer the kids cigarettes at recess. If you teach the importance of exercise and fitness, you don't then give the kids a computer game at recess, you encourage them to move and play. And If you teach ...more
By AScanlon (1), Sag Harbor on Apr 20, 12 7:00 PM
4 members liked this comment
And who will pay for it?

No reason for name calling my dear... That's a bit childish, don'tcha think?

Do you teach your kids that too?
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on May 10, 12 4:41 PM
Listen, I'm all for having kids eat as healthy as possible, my own daughter has great eating habits that my wife and I have instilled. You can easily find a healthy jelly for these sandwiches, but worst case, isn't it better to give a child a little artificial sweetener than have them go hungry?
By bubby (236), southampton on Apr 20, 12 7:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yes, it is.

Try ribose. It may work the best...
By Mr. Z (10157), North Sea on Apr 20, 12 10:28 PM
And the chemical difference between cane sugar, beet sugar, and corn sugar is...what?
By VOS (1089), WHB on Apr 20, 12 11:44 PM
Sucrose, sucrose, and glucose/dextrose/fructose.

"High fructose syrup", a.k.a. "corn sugar" (HFCS) is augmented with enzymes to create higher concentration of fructose, and it ain't "natural". It is a processed food.
By Mr. Z (10157), North Sea on Apr 21, 12 3:08 PM
"Processed" is just a word that has no nutritional consequences. Can anyone here specifically and scientifically make a case for any of this concern without relying on alarmist buzzwords?
By VOS (1089), WHB on Apr 21, 12 11:19 PM
Not an alarmist buzzword in this case.

Enzymes are used in a FACTORY to PROCESS glucose, and dextrose into fructose. It ain't natural, nor will it ever be.

It may as well be made with a home chemistry set.
By Mr. Z (10157), North Sea on Apr 23, 12 4:46 PM
Enzymes are used in the body to digest food - it is a perfectly natural, and necessary, process. Do you have ANYTHING specific and scientific?
By VOS (1089), WHB on Apr 23, 12 8:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
Oops, meant to hit reply.

1. Your body does not make corn starch, when you eat corn.

2. Your body doesn't use mold, to ferment corn syrup after you ingest it.

3. Xylose isomerase may be a natural enzyme, but your body does not metabolize xylose, unless you happen to be a eukaryotic variety of bacteria. It is a sugar derived from wood.
By Mr. Z (10157), North Sea on Apr 23, 12 11:21 PM
Living on the "East End", we are fortunate to have many local farms around us. The "waste" (which is perfectly good vegetables and fruits, just ones that have been picked over, etc) that farms have to essentially "get rid" of is obscene. I'd be hard pressed to find a farm that wouldn't be willing to donate their unused crops to schools on the east end especially to provide a nutritious, processed-free lunch for school children. Even if it just meant some berries for strawberry jam. There are ...more
By bchgrl83 (52), Westhampton Beach on Apr 21, 12 10:38 AM
1 member liked this comment
sounds perfect- lets feed the poor kids crap food to keep the cycle going. and seriously their parents can send them to school with a bagged lunch??!!
By katydoo (6), hampton bays, on Apr 21, 12 11:07 AM
It's a choice between NO lunch for these poor kids or a lunch that contains the evil demon, SUGAR(!!). In that case, I say let the adults argue the propriety of eating sugar as an academic topic of discussion and GIVE THE KIDS SOMETHING TO EAT.

By highhatsize (3569), East Quogue on Apr 21, 12 11:42 AM
3 members liked this comment
to suppose 2 do:

What a terrific idea! If successful, it could spawn an entire new genre of police procedural dramas on TV: "Lunch Police".
By highhatsize (3569), East Quogue on Apr 21, 12 1:12 PM
I wonder what happens if the kid is allergic to peanut butter.
By bchgrl83 (52), Westhampton Beach on Apr 21, 12 5:50 PM
Don't the po people get food stamps? Feed your own kids!
By bigfresh (3514), north sea on Apr 22, 12 7:00 AM
I hope you are hungry and without food one day
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Apr 24, 12 6:35 PM
How about destitute, and desperately seeking a fresh dumpster?
By Mr. Z (10157), North Sea on Apr 24, 12 9:10 PM
It is official, big fresh, your are the biggest effing moron on the east end. Did your daddy not love you enough? Or was it that your mommy coddled you? Whatever the reason, you are a complete tool
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Apr 29, 12 6:56 PM
2 members liked this comment
Bchgrl, don't even get me started on the peanut butter policy at sag harbor. It's so backwards. If a kid has a peanut allergy, all the Other kids in the class are ostracized. If my daughter wants peanut butter, she has to go to another classroom to eat, or sometimes eat in the hallway. How does that make any sense. Some parent has scared the heck out of the school saying their kid might have a bad reaction, and the school has bowed to them. Total B.S.
By bubby (236), southampton on Apr 24, 12 7:46 AM
1 member liked this comment
I found it mildly amusing that they were still giving out PB&J's with all the recent "peanut butter" allergies and frenzy, even more than the jelly having artificial flavoring.

By bchgrl83 (52), Westhampton Beach on Apr 24, 12 3:55 PM
Wrong. The only way to trigger a reaction is through actual ingestion of nut product or inhalation of aerosolized nuts,I.e cooking with peanut oil. Even rubbing peanut butter all over a highly allergic person only produces a mild rash. Odor has absolutely nothing to do with it.
By bubby (236), southampton on May 1, 12 7:39 AM
1 member liked this comment
My question re. food stamps is asked in all seriousness. The less fortunate among us get food stamps, right? Those food stamps are to provide nutritious food for the recipient and their family, right? How about using the food stamps to make the child's lunch? That's exactly why there is the WIC program. Why should the taxpayer pay additional funds to feed these children in school when we already provide the funds?
By bigfresh (3514), north sea on Apr 25, 12 6:54 AM
Your question was not serious, you cowardly loser. The "po' people"? If you are going to be assinine enough to post something like that at least have the balls to stand by your bs.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Apr 29, 12 6:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
Hey Phil, you have no idea what you are talking about. The only way to trigger an allergic reaction is by either ingesting peanut butter or inhaling aerosolized oil from cooking with peanut oil. An allergic child could smell a peanut butter sandwich for hours with no reaction.
By bubby (236), southampton on Apr 25, 12 7:28 AM
This thread started out with a discussion of the topic, i.e., the propriety of giving "unhealthy" "lunches" to kids who otherwise would go hungry. That was reasonable. But arguing that the practice should be stopped because it's a drain on taxpayers is simply mean. We are talking about pb&j, for god's sake, not steak.

Here's the way I see it. It's lunchtime; some kids have no food (the reason is irrelevant.) GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO EAT.
By highhatsize (3569), East Quogue on Apr 25, 12 11:24 AM
4 members liked this comment
Personal responsibility( including feeding your kids) is to liberals as Holy Water is to vampires.
By bigfresh (3514), north sea on Apr 26, 12 7:09 AM
All schools should provide for these sweet kids who go to school without lunch. I would assume they dont have breakfast either at home. The reasons are irrelevant. So many of the comments above are sick and I hope none of you sickos have children. I would happily take in or help a child in need
By springsmom (29), East Hampton on Apr 29, 12 6:30 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By double-D (96), southampton on Apr 30, 12 8:41 PM
2 members liked this comment
By double-D (96), southampton on Apr 30, 12 8:42 PM
Truth hurts huh? Yeah it does..............
By double-D (96), southampton on May 3, 12 8:41 PM
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