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Junk food is on policy initiative hit list

Jelly doughnuts and other nutritional no-nos could be shelved by the Maryvale School District under a proposed wellness policy.

The School Board on Monday discussed crafting a new policy, which is required by the state under the federal Child Nutrition Act.

Although nutrition education has long been a part of the district's health curriculum, School Superintendent Gary L. Brader said, the state is requiring schools to find ways to integrate those healthy messages. This could mean just saying no to many familiar goodies in school cafeterias, vending machines and concession stands at school sports and fund-raising events.

"We are obligated under the Child Nutrition Act to begin looking at those things, and we may well have to make some tough choices," Brader said.

Just how far the policy would go with recommendations for good eating and exercise would be left to the district Health and Safety Committee.

Robert J. Tauriello, assistant school superintendent for administrative services, heads the committee of educators and parents, which the district has had for about 25 years.

Tauriello said the group will reconsider everything from what kinds of snacks are available in vending machines to what kinds of treats are given out by teachers "so that we're not rewarding good behavior with bad food."

He said the committee also would look for ways to send home some of those healthy eating messages. He noted, however, that there are limits to what the district can do.

Not selling junk food could cost the district money, he said, but it would reinforce nutritional values being taught in class.

"Even if kids say, 'Hey, we want chips,' we may have to tell them they'll have to go home to get them," Tauriello said.

The board also heard the last presentation for proposed capital improvements, as well as initial budget projections for Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services for 2006-07.

The budget could be about $200,000 lower than the current figure, mostly because of fewer anticipated vocational and special-education students.

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