From our local newspaper. We used to teach kids that it was good to share, but now public schools lose money if kids dare to share:
State slices funding over shared pizza
Monitors from the Texas Department of Agriculture found out the student shared his food and told Alvin ISD officials the district would lose the funds because it violated the Texas Public School Nutrition Policy.
“Had they shared a french fry, it could have been the same,” said Jennifer Basich, Alvin ISD’s director of child nutrition services. “I think it’s unfortunate. We try to do our best.”
The agriculture department had three monitors visiting schools last week during a review of the district that takes place once every five years, Basich said.
Bryan Black, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Agriculture, confirmed the denial of reimbursement because of the violation.
The agriculture department placed some strict limits on child nutrition in 2004 to battle increasing childhood obesity. Texas ranks sixth in the nation in childhood obesity rates, Black said.
“The policy was put in place to help Texas children,” he said.
Sharing the pizza violated the state’s nutrition policy because the food was provided by a parent and then shared with other students, Black said.
“When they tightened the rules, they didn’t want anything coming from outside,” Basich said.
The policy forced districts to make changes, including limiting student access to vending machines, requiring healthier foods in cafeterias and barring outside food from being shared with other students.
The policy also prevents the sale of candy or other foods sold as part of fundraisers during school hours.
“The reason being that parents know what their children eat at school,” Black said.
Outside of the incident, Alvin ISD received a good review from the agriculture department, with the district having high marks for having a wide array of choices, offering fresh foods and keeping “outstanding” documentation and records, according to a copy of the review’s suggestions and comments section, provided by Basich.
“Child nutrition has worked diligently in providing quality menus and numerous choices,” the review states. “These are presented in an attractive and appealing manner. District offers many fresh fruits and vegetables and encourages those options to students at every meal service.”
Alvin ISD schools have lunchtime monitors but it can be difficult to make sure each student is not sharing food they brought from home, Basich said.
“We send out a letter to parents,” she said about the policy. “When you have several hundred students in a cafeteria, it’s hard.”
In a lot of Alvin ISD schools, when a parent wants to eat with their child, they often sit at a separate table to help ensure the food is not given to other students, Alvin ISD spokeswoman Shirley Brothers said.