More schools across Hawaii are getting rid of sweets — even for special occasions — as they try to provide a healthier environment for students.
Schools are telling parents to leave the cake and cookies home, even on birthdays.
One central Oahu preschool is serving students turkey chili and salad for lunch, as well as yogurt for a snack.
“We have a nutritionist who reviews our menus and gives us suggestions if she thinks there’s too much fat or not good for the children,” Grace Fellowship Children’s Center Director Marcia Arakawa said.
She believes it’s never too early to teach kids what’s good for them.
“Even though they’re only three, we want them to start good nutrition and good eating habits now, so it’s part of their lifestyle,” Arakawa said.
The school is also asking for cooperation from parents. When parents ask to bring in sweet treats for special occasions, Arakawa makes other recommendations.
“Jello, ice cakes, fruit is really big,” Arakawa said.
Other schools are doing the same. Kanoelani Elementary in Waipio recently told parents that cookies, cakes, and cupcakes will not be allowed on birthdays when the new school year begins next month.
“When I went to school, that was the biggest things we looked forward to,” parent Dana Cazinha said.
The school is implementing wellness guidelines, which are part of the state Department of Education’s efforts to provide kids with life-long healthy habits.
Here are some of the guidelines:
- Meals must feature fresh fruits and veggies.
- Nutrition education should be a part of other school subjects.
- Kids are discouraged from long period of inactivity.
“As parents, we try to give the nutrition at home. But at school, they’re responsible for the breakfast and lunches as well,” parent Richard Aguon said.
According to the DOE’s food service director, banning sweet treats from schools is part of a state policy.
Schools are not penalized if they do not follow it, which is why some schools still allow these types of goodies.