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Taking away the cupcakes a sure way to kick up a ruckus

Submitted by on Wednesday, 14 October 2009 2 Comments

Note to the West Babylon School District in Long Island: Thank you for your concern for children with food allergies, but your ban on home-baked goodies doesn’t help them in the least.

Sure, you specified that any trail mix brought in for parties doesn’t contain nuts. But have any of you ever tried finding a trail mix produced in a nut-free facility? It’s out there, but it’s godawful expensive.

You required that commercially prepared food have proper ingredient labels, a standard that’s laughable because the required proper labeling is a joke.

And those are just a few reasons your ban is silly, particularly in this economy. The biggest reason it’s insane, though, is that it didn’t go far enough. Don’t just ban unhealthy treats. Ban birthday parties, period. A lot of us will be secretly overjoyed.

Bans on homemade food have been going on for more than a decade. I’m surprised these days when I hear of a district that doesn’t already have one. The oddest is at Boots’ preschool, where the guidelines allow white or yellow cake with a mountain of buttercream – that’s nothing more than fat and sugar, folks – but prohibit chocolate.

Early on, the reasons usually were “safety concerns,” and those still crop up among folks who like to evoke images of the nose-picking mom slathering frosting on in her rat-infested kitchen. That’s almost as funny as the district in Iowa that banned homemade foods out of fear that a meth addict would contaminate the cupcakes. It’s possible, but not likely.

These days rationales for bans are more likely going to revolve around obesity – as if prohibiting the occasional treat is going to make up for physical education classes that have been cut due to budgets and recesses that have been slashed due to testing. And have school officials read those “proper labels” – transfat and high fructose corn syrup, anyone?

On the other side, there’s the lunatic fringe that likes to label everything socialism and swear that the next move will be government cameras in your living room.

Really, this is not a life and death issue worth getting that hot and bothered about. The most hilarious part for me is the ferocity with which some parents defend cupcakes and birthday parties at school as an important part of childhood.

Since when? They weren’t a part of mine once I got past kindergarten. Truth be told, I – and probably a lot of other parents – would be relieved if schools would ban birthday parties, period.

There are two dozen kids in Big Guy’s class thisĀ  year. That’s an average of two parties a month, more or less depending on how many kids have summer birthdays. Teachers really shouldn’t have to stop the world every other week so Susie or Johnny can feel special at school. Used to be, getting to walk at the head of the lunch line was enough.

But now parents tote in muffins and juice. In California, like in West Babylon, most if not all districts ban homemade food, so that means parents pay out the ear for what they could bake for a fraction of the cost.

I swear I’d run the re-election campaign for any school board members who have the guts to ban, not just homemade food, but birthday parties, period.

I don’t pick my nose, and I’m not a socialist. OK, make that not quite a socialist. I’m just tired of the birthday insanity.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Parenting Pink said:

    Amen sister! We have a similar ban here in Virginia on homemade baked goods and, quite frankly, it’s got me all worked up! I, like yourself, understand that there are certainly situations where children’s allergies need to be taken into consideration, but to ban homemade foods altogether just seems…unamerican!

    And you bring up a very good point about “calling it quits” for birthday parties at school altogether. Purchasing store-bought baked goods is expensive – especially when you have lots of children in the class to buy for.

    Whew! Thanks for allowing me to vent! I see a ‘campaign manager’ career in your future if you can find a ‘ban the baked goods and parties’ candidate! LOL

  • Debra said:

    Oh no!!!!!!!! They got you, too? I remember last spring admiring the cute little Rice Krispie pops you’d made and envying that you could. I think the last homemade cupcake has left the school building.