June 24, 2007

No fat kid left behind

CT school stays stuck in the seventies

This is a sad, sad state of affairs; or really, Danbury, Connecticut is a sad, sad state of junk food.

Danbury school officials tried to make the high school culinary arts program compliant with a healthy foods program run by the state but couldn't do it, so it's dropping out of the program. And giving up on a potential $50,000 the state provides to some schools for participating.

The Danbury Newtimeslive.com reports the program requires all food items offered for sale to students from any sources, including school stores, vending machines, school cafeterias and any fund raising activities, come from the state certified list.

"We tried," said Sue Levasseur, the school district's coordinator of health services. "The academic program uses a wide variety of foods that the students use in recipes they prepare and serve. The (nutrition) program took away a lot of the ingredients essential to the creation of recipes."

I'm incredulous: "The nutrition program took away a lot of essential ingredients." Is this the kind of coordinator of health services you want in your school district? Levasseur is saying we need to not only serve unhealthy recipes, but in Danbury they want to teach kids how to make unhealthy food.

Danbury High principal Catherine Richard said to comply with the state healthy foods program, the students would have to scan ingredients and adjust recipes before using them.
Duh. That's the entire reason behind the state's initiative! Change the recipes. Stop sticking butter and sugar and fat into every dish. Stop cooking oversized portions. Use fruits and vegetables. What educator -- in today's world -- says: "it's too difficult to teach kids how to cook healthy."

What happens to those Danbury students as they try to get a job in the food industry? Who's going to hire a cook or chef that says: in my schooling I only learned unhealthy recipes.

Susan Fiore, nutrition education coordinator for the state Department of Education, said she's received a number of calls from schools that did not participate but want to join. She also had a call from California, which is looking at Connecticut's program as a model.

Fiore thought the Danbury culinary program was an anomaly.

"If you start at the elementary school it's not an issue, because by the time these kids are in middle and high school they won't be missing the snacks that aren't allowed,'' she said. "Overall, most people were positive.

"The program raised the awareness of kids and staff, but we still have to make healthy food choices more attractive," Janice Jordan, Bethel associate superintendent, said.

In Danbury, their motto is, "no fat kid left behind."

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