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Mandating what food is sold after school takes away parents' rights [Letter]

PTA

This letter is in response to Stephen Musselman's opinion letter about the HCPSS Wellness Policy revisions. In his letter, Mussleman claims that the HOCO PTA's are taking a "hard lined stance against student health… ." The PTA's oppose the proposed revision to the Wellness Policy that mandates any food/beverages given or sold to students on school system property after school would have to comply with yet to be written HCPSS Nutritional Guidelines.

Mandating what all organizations distribute during after-school and weekend activities is an overreach by the school system. It takes away our rights as parents to decide what our children are allowed to eat and drink when they are not in school. This is why PTA opposes the mandate.

The PTA's of Howard County have been at the forefront for better student health and wellness for years. As a member of the PTA, I was chair of our wellness committee for two years. During this time, we developed the pilot program for healthy snacks being sold during lunchtime in my elementary school. We replaced existing snack options with healthy alternatives, but were barred from replacing unhealthy choices such as ice cream because such items are considered "big money makers" for the food service department.

The PTA does not make any money from the sale of snacks and lunch during lunchtime and school hours. According to the school system, snacks "must" be sold to offset the cost of the lunch program because the food nutrition service department must be financially self-sustaining. The PTA's goal in replacing the existing snacks was to make available healthier options, therefore allowing students to be nutritionally more well-prepared to learn during the school day.

If the school system wants to truly improve the health of our students, they would do well to focus on their responsibility during the school day. This includes improving the lack-luster school lunch program and allowing children more recess and physical education time.

Kathy McClellan

Ellicott City

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