PAC – Barrier Star Journal

Parents and student volunteers are busy preparing food for the breakfast program at Clearwater High School (Submitted Photo)
Lillian Robertson, left, and Phoenix MacFayden serve breakfast at Clearwater High School.  (photo sent)Lillian Robertson, left, and Phoenix MacFayden serve breakfast at Clearwater High School. (photo sent)

British Columbia’s plan to update food and beverage guidelines for schools has parents worried about the effect it will have on fundraisers and student events.

The province’s proposed 2022 guidelines for B.C. school food and beverage sales — billed as a voluntary guide to a “nutrition gold standard” — highlight best practices for food offered, served or sold in schools, including at fundraisers or parent-hosted events such as hot meals.

The guidelines identify foods to avoid, including cookies, energy and protein bars, potato chips, fruit cups, deli meats, hot dogs, sugary dairy products and anything fried. Lunches brought from home are not affected by the proposed guidelines.

Leesa Schilling, mother of two and chair of the Barriere High School PAC, said a move to stricter guidelines would affect fundraisers, such as the ongoing Easter Purdy fundraiser. Under the proposed rules, the sale of chocolate would not be accepted.

“We wouldn’t have that anymore,” Schilling said. “If we decided to have a bake sale and we had to strictly follow those guidelines, I don’t think we would be selling any.”

Kirstin MacDonald, president of the Clearwater High School PAC, said members organize various events to “encourage and foster the importance of community, such as a family barbecue at the start of term and a turkey dinner at Christmas.

Under the proposed guidelines, many components of these meals would fall into the “foods to avoid” category, including stuffing and sauce – due to sodium – as well as dessert table and cranberry sauce, due to the sugar content.

MacDonald said food from these events is also sent home with students in need. During the COVID-19 pandemic, local restaurants have helped out with pampering packages for students instead of the normal turkey dinner.

“All of this is done at no cost to students, staff (or) community partners,” MacDonald said in a letter to the Time. “The meals provided were healthy and balanced, but did not meet the proposed new guidelines.”

One of the parent volunteers, she added, runs a breakfast program at CSS once a week and values ​​whole foods and locally grown produce. Many items currently on offer would not be allowed under the guidelines, such as bacon, ham and crispy potatoes. Meals are offered free of charge to students or parents.

“These meals are hearty, healthy and since they are served at school, it encourages students to be on time to be served,” MacDonald said. “We at CSS PAC recognize the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet, but the foods offered by PACs often serve a multitude of purposes. It can help build a community.

The proposed guidelines released jointly by the BC Ministries of Health and Education are open for comment until April 30.

The Barrière Elementary School PAC declined to comment on the guidelines on Tuesday.

MacDonald noted that the number of fast-food outlets within a three-minute walk of Clearwater High School likely has a bigger impact on student nutrition than what’s offered in schools.

Schilling said PACs needed more time to respond.

The BSS PAC meets on the first Monday of each month, meaning it met just before the survey was deployed.

Since then, she has been trying to get the link with other PAC members and will contact the school principal to share the information with the students as well.

“They’re rolling it out in a way that just seems gross,” she told the Time. “It doesn’t feel like they’re asking our opinion, really, because it looks like they’ve already mapped out everything. That’s where it worries us.”

She said the PACs had not been consulted so far and it looked like some sort of all-or-nothing deal.

“I think as a group we would probably say, none then, because we’re not going to restrict everybody that way.”

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