A school district in Washington state is determined to make school more healthy and less fun.
Edmonds School District, in the suburbs south of Seattle, has approved a ban on cupcakes, candy and other sweet treats children typically bring to school to celebrate their birthdays. Instead, district officials say kids should distribute pencils to their classmates on those special days–because pencils are every bit as much fun as cupcakes.
The ban on food in classrooms—aside from “seasonal, cultural or curriculum-related celebrations” that are allowed to occur three times per year—is part of an overall effort to make the district’s schools healthier and to comply with new federal guidelines for school wellness.
If every child in a classroom brings treats to birthday celebrations, “We’re not just talking about one cupcake a year, we’re talking about 25 cupcakes a year,” DJ Jakala, spokeswoman for the Edmonds School District, told the Everett Herald newspaper.
But some parents say the school district is stepping on tradition—and telling children there is only one right way to celebrate their birthdays.
“It’s not necessarily the district’s job to control that, to take [this] away from everybody,” parent Marcus Shelton told local Fox affiliate KCPQ. “It’s overreaching.”
As of two weeks ago, the district had gotten just three written complaints, but officials did not return calls from seeking updated numbers.
Edmonds School District isn’t alone when it comes to banning sweet treats for birthday parties and other occasions, but it’s certainly in the minority.
According to a report published in the Journal of Nutrition, Education and Behavior last year, only 7.3 percent of schools prohibit sugary items during classroom birthday parties and 6.4 percent for classroom holiday parties. The study examined policies at more than 1,200 schools nationwide.