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My kids' school bans homemade goodies


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I would hope that anyone who even remotely credits moronic policies like this will refrain from criticizing people who make, market and consume the mass foodstuffs this policy supports. Because the lesson this policy teaches is that store-bought it better than home-made, now that we've officially endorsed the idea, we can't blame anyone for adopting it.

I can't help but think there's some evil marketing genius for Hostess behind this: "why stop at advertising twinkies to toddlers on daytime TV -- we can have the school system do it for us, too."

The store-bought-only bakesale is beyond parody. Not to get into to stereotypes (oh, hell, why not?) but I thought you Middle Americans (Go Soooners!) were the ones keeping alive traditions like bake sales where Mrs. Jones always donates the scratch cake made from her grandmother's recipe, while we obsessive east-coast types were stopping off at the bakery for a dozen plastic cupcakes.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Is it actually POSSIBLE to get food poisioning from a cookie or cupcake?

Possible, sure.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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they would be portrayed as reckless and sued into oblivion.

And with the pebble-polishing and diamond-dulling that most public schools currently do, this is a bad outcome?

While I agree, it would be unfortunate if something like that were to happen, I believe a competent judge would toss the suit out of court, at least the portion dealing with the school because they really have very few things that they are culpable for in a situation like this.

It goes back to the thing I continue to say here, life is all about risk-taking. Risk-minimization is a reasonable first-approximation, but really what we ought to do is risk-optimization; that is, try to make sure that we have a reasonable return for the risks we take.

Given that I haven't heard of a spate of student poisoning by homemade treats, this doesn't seem to pass the optimization test. Also, it doesn't seem to pass the reasonable level of suspicion test. It's way too high of a bar for my tastes.

Besides, if the parents don't trust the other students or other parents to that level, why the f*** are they continuing to trust their child's education to the same people? Gahh! :wacko:

Edit: spelling police

Edited by jsolomon (log)

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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My older son's school has the same rule. Drives me crazy, but I understand their reasons. If even one child got food poisoning or had an allergic reaction and parents could pin it to the school, they'd be in a world of hurt legally.

Thankfully, my younger son's preschool has no such rule, so I bring in cupcakes and cookies and other goodies with great glee :-).

Edited by tejon (log)

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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As someone who PROUDLY toted a lunch bag to school for most of his career (4th grade on) I can safely say that, except for the time that my mom put ipicac in some cupcakes to find out who was stealing my lunch--it worked, and didn't hurt him much-he went on to become a journeyman, longtime QB in the NFL--that no one ever got sick from her lunches.

It's a shame, I'm against it, but as Chris reasonably argues above, it's the world that we live in and I can see, easily, the other side of the argument.

My kids, both of them, take a lunch most days and as far as I know, they have not been accused, as of yet, of being Typhoid Miles or Typhoid Graham-but hope springs eternal, I suppose.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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they would be portrayed as reckless and sued into oblivion.

And with the pebble-polishing and diamond-dulling that most public schools currently do, this is a bad outcome?

If the judgement is coming out of the county or districts or state's school budget, then yes, absolutely it is a bad outcome.

While I agree, it would be unfortunate if something like that were to happen, I believe a competent judge would toss the suit out of court, at least the portion dealing with the school . . .

I'm no legal expert, but it would seem to me that the problem is that you have no gaurantee whatsoever that your case is going to land in front a competent, reasonable judge, and no matter what the ultimate outcome, the defendent will have to spend time and money merely responding to a lawsuit.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Decisions can't be made on the tiny possibility that some harm will come or the always invoked "fear of lawsuits". Perhapse recess, sports, chemistry, shop, and hormones should be forbidden as well -- all are much more dangerous, in my experience, than baked goods.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Is it actually POSSIBLE to get food poisioning from a cookie or cupcake?

Yes, most assuredly it is. I was a victim of food poisoning from a chocolate chip cookie at a reception in grad school. I learned later that at least ten other people spent the night in the bathroom. The cookie came from a grocery store bakery and I now live across the street from that grocery store. Seven years later, I will not eat anything from that bakery.

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Is it actually POSSIBLE to get food poisioning from a cookie or cupcake?

My dad killed a dog with a cake... and all the dog did was eat it.

Of course, Dad accidentally used salt instead of sugar and subsequently tossed the cake in the cow's saltlick.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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The cookie came from a grocery store bakery

Interesting that it came from a store bakery rather than a home kitchen...people should probably just stop eating so we never run any risks of improper food handling.

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Decisions can't be made on the tiny possibility that some harm will come or the always invoked "fear of lawsuits".  Perhapse recess, sports, chemistry, shop, and hormones should be forbidden as well -- all are much more dangerous, in my experience, than baked goods.

In many cases, those things *are* becoming forbidden. No shop classes around here. No more dodge ball, either. We used to have a trampoline for gym; not anymore.

This type of nanny state thinking is insidious. It's one thing after another that we can't do...let's ban "whoppers" because they are making us fat...ke-riist, where will it end? (visions of Apple's 1984 ad run through my head)

I can understand about being sensitive to kids with allergies (although I wonder if all the "germ prevention" we do for kids actually results in a higher incidence of allergies), but for the rest I say BAH. I'm with jsolomon on this:

It goes back to the thing I continue to say here, life is all about risk-taking. Risk-minimization is a reasonable first-approximation, but really what we ought to do is risk-optimization; that is, try to make sure that we have a reasonable return for the risks we take.

As for the lawsuit threat, judges do throw out frivolous lawsuits and often drastically reduce the amount of damages in personal injury suits, but the media and "watchdog groups" (many times sponsored by corporations hoping to reduce their level of responsibility) generally don't report on how Mr. Fall-on-the-floor-and-sue got laughed out of court.

Reminds me of the time we saw someone pouring water on the floor of an auto parts store and then lying down beside it, yelling that he fell. A couple of us (employees) went over and told him politely that if he didn't want to get really hurt he should leave quickly. His recovery was miraculous.

Edit: laying/lying g*d I hate that conjugation

Edited by Darcie B (log)
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This type of nanny state thinking is insidious. It's one thing after another that we can't do...let's ban "whoppers" because they are making us fat...ke-riist, where will it end? (visions of Apple's 1984 ad run through my head)

The thing that really gets my hackles up, is who are these chucklebutts that necessarily understand what is better for a kid, or for a group of kids? If they want to dictate so closely what my kid can and cannot do, then they should have squeezed that watermelon out of their carrot-sized opening.

There are very classic cases use of the subjunctive versus use of the directive case. Yes, these people can make edicts, but should they? It seems to be a place where they have a little checksheet for "How to make it to <BIG PLACE>" and an edict like this will let them check off "made life safer for <GROUP>".

But, there is no way for <GROUP> to rebut this on a resume. It's all so much B.S. and the superintendent or whoever made this edict should be smacked around for making edicts that really are outside of the interest of the parents.

Besides, foods from home can easily be argued as an important step in multicultural education because it is out of a kid's microculture of his/her own home. So, now the school is contradicting itself in what is important. And it's giving the impression to the kids that HOME=BAD, CORPORATE=GOOD. That's a bad frame of mind to put kids in.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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[host hat on]

Folks, let's stick to the food-related evils of the world, ok? Thanks.

[host hat off]

Because the lesson this policy teaches is that store-bought it better than home-made, now that we've officially endorsed the idea, we can't blame anyone for adopting it.

Charles, while I agree that the store-bought bake sale is beyond parody, I think that the lesson that and the policy in general teaches is that shared store-bought food is safer than shared homemade food. The policy doesn't cover all homemade food, remember.

While I agree, it would be unfortunate if something like that were to happen, I believe a competent judge would toss the suit out of court, at least the portion dealing with the school because they really have very few things that they are culpable for in a situation like this.

If I had to guess, my center's lawyer would settle a food poisoning claim out of court and quietly. No judge would ever see it. And while I could argue a long time about why we "chucklebutts" are charged with the responsibilities of thinking about kids' eating while in our care (federal and state laws about food safety, for starters), jsolomon has a good point:

Besides, foods from home can easily be argued as an important step in multicultural education because it is out of a kid's microculture of his/her own home. 

No one in the eGullet Society needs to be told that not being able to share food indicates a lousy state of cultural affairs. :sad:

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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As an educator, I think part of the responsibility lies with the parents and their need to inform the teacher if there is a potential problem with food and their child. I know of one child who had a gluten allergy. The parents did the necessary investigation and found out that their child could eat raisins as long as they came from the small, individual boxes. If they ate from the large box there would be a problem as there is some wheat product that goes on raisins in a large box to keep them from clumping together. Granted, that this child probably wouldn't be able to eat any 'treat' b/c most likely there would be something with wheat in it.

However, most parents would be unaware of this (and shouldn't necessarily know) and happily send in a treat for a birthday, etc. Then the problems arise: Did the teacher read all students' files? Did all parents fill out a form stating allergies? Did the parent donating said goodies inform teacher as to ingredients? Etc., etc. In today's society, schools 'should' constantly consider all possible/probable outcomes in advance to offset problems and/or possible lawsuits {and I teach in a private school!!}

As a recipient of said goodies --- unfortunately I have to look at the student individually. If the child is 'hygienically challenged' or brings 'questionable' lunches, then I happily take the offering and dispose of it at the end of the day. If everything is ok, then (since it is usually a cupcake for me) eat the icing and dump the cake - I am not a cake eater :shock:

Edited by MicBacchus (log)

Burgundy makes you think silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them ---

Brillat-Savarin

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Once again, I'm glad mine are the ages they are.

Geez, though, unsanitary homes? By health department standards, all homes are unsanitary, even if a neatfreak lives there.

I wonder if the school was sued? Where we used to live, bake sales were banned because they fit the "food product offered for sale" rule. Yeah, and still, half the caterers I competed against were cooking from their homes.

I just bring in a tub of dehydrogenated oils, making sure they have all of the trans fats and a 25 pound bag of sugar and a mixer.  I let the kids cream them together and then go nuts.

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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edited to add: What about cooking in the classrooms? Is that verboten? What a loss if so....

Elementary schools in our district do not have kitchens, and I don't think the kids are permitted in the school cafeteria (for liability reasons, I'm sure), but the cool thing is Heidi's special ed classroom (middle school).

They have a full kitchen, complete with range, oven, dishwasher and microwave, plus a bunch of equipment.

Although kids in middle school do not typically have birthday parties, they do in the special ed room.

What the parent does is either supply ingredients, or send some money to school. The last birthday, the kids walked to the grocery store (2 blocks away) and got yogurt and frozen fruit and made smoothies! They've also made waffles and topped them with fruit.

I can't imagine that if you could corall a few blenders that a teacher wouldn't welcome the opportunity for a parent(s) to come in and help make a treat like smoothies. You could work in match, colors, nutrition, etc. and the kids would have a ton of fun.

Rather than debate public policy, I'd like to see some creative ideas on what to send as a treat!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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The school does still have bake sales, but the items need to be store bought.

That is the single most retarded thing I have ever heard.

Agreed.

I think not allowing home made stuff is a shade overboard. I mean...does the government need to regulate EVERY little aspect of your life? If little Timmy can't eat peanuts, he should know to ask first (yes, even in pre-school, kids are capable of this...) or, Mom should alert the teacher ahead of time, for her to do the asking. My son's class is filled with kids of all kinds, some can't eat chocolate, strawberries, nuts. One girl is Muslim and has her own set of dietary needs. They know their restrictions, and plan accordingly. They inquire polietly, or just turn down the offered treat, in favor of something brought from home.

As a 'class parent' I make sure I know ahead of time, kids' dietary restrictions, and other little things. It doesn't take much to make nut and chocolate free snickerdoodles, instead of chocolate chip cookies, or something. In the case of suspect cooking conditions, the teacher can figure out early in the year who's mommy should be asked to bring napkins or juice boxes rather than cookies. It doesn't take much.

Like with censorship, this is just another thing being taken out of the individual's hands, and decisions being made for us, and I think it just plain sucks. Is this the end of firehouse barbecues? Elks club spaghetti dinners? Church potlucks? I mean, unless they're all professionally catered, of course.

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...the time that my mom put ipicac in some cupcakes to find out who was stealing my lunch--

Did she really do that? Awesome!

Without getting into the oft-assumed but rarely-examined "corporate=bad" train of thought, I'll play devil's advocate and say that bringing store-bought items to share can still reflect cultural differences. For example, my huband had plenty of jariscos growing up, whereas I didn't see them until my twenties. I had Hubig pies in my homestead, and I'd be willing to bet that many of you have yet to meet one of those tasty treats.

As for the cooking at school idea, I've seen this done in a preschool that was part of a synagogue with an industrial kitchen. The kids would make jelly donuts and latkes for the high holidays.

Now what about edible schoolyards? Any health inspectors poking around the tomato plants?

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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Rinsewind, any good bakeries near you? Bringing in good cookies or cupcakes or whatever from a bakery can be a really nice (if perhaps expensive) thing to do for a birthday party, et al.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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That's it! I'm sending my (future) kids out to school with a packed steak tartare once a week...

My future kids are going to steal your future kids' lunches. :laugh::laugh::laugh:

Heh, I'll be their principal and just confiscate it... for purely food-hygiene reasons... umm, yeah. That's why!

Of course, I'd be the principal who would have the home-ec classes grow herbs in pots and make the kitchen use them...

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Decisions can't be made on the tiny possibility that some harm will come or the always invoked "fear of lawsuits".

They most certainly can be. The evidence is literally all around us. Replace the word "can't" with the word "shouldn't," though, and you have a valid point.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Allergies and hygiene are two very different issues. We are still allowed to bring treats to our school. Luckily, I know every child in both my children's class and there are no allergies. There is one boy in the school that is allergic to peanuts but not to other nuts. After going on some different parenting forums(and talking to parents I know), I would be TERRIFIED to send my child to school with a severe allergy. People just don't understand that even the smell of peanuts can cause a reaction. I've seen more than one parent say but all little Johnny will eat is peanut butter sandwiches so that is what I'm sending to school. When I brought my goodies into the church bake sale this year I was asked if there were nuts in anything-my response was no but I could not say they are nut free because I could have used peanut butter in the bowls and there could be a trace in there. A nut free kitchen is different from just not putting nuts in the thing you are making today-not everyone understands that.

I live in the country and do not fall under city rules and regulations. Our church can still hold bake sales and suppers with the general public supplying most of the food. At our local carnival, I was watching people walk in and out of the kitchen while the breakfast was being prepared-long hair flowing with no hairnets in sight. I doubt anyone involved have a food safety course. Even though they have the triple sinks in the kitchen, I've yet to see them used properly. Just because they have the "legal" kitchen doesn't mean the people using it are up on food safety.

Sandra

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