Orinda Elementary Schools Ban Sugar

Libby Dunne, Managing Editor

The health-food fad has reached Orinda elementary schools in the form of a sugar ban. Orinda elementary schools, along with thousands of other schools, no longer allow students to bring in sugary celebration treats for their birthdays.

This no-sugar rule has been in effect for years, but just began to be enforced at the beginning of this school year. “All OUSD ES [Orinda Union School District, Elementary] schools adhere to BP 3550, which promotes student wellness and specifically disallows non nutritious foods to be served or promoted in the classroom,” Ken Gallegos, Sleepy Hollow Elementary School principal said. “OUSD revisited BP 3550 last spring and we reaffirmed our commitment to the goals of BP 3550 last spring.”

The decision to truly enforce this rule was decided last spring. “Re-committing to the guidelines and nutritional goals was not negotiable,” Gallegos said. “It is board policy. The idea to disallow parent donated sugary treats was discussed at length at the school leadership level, and the decision was endorsed by all school principals.”

Schools are focusing on birthday treats and sugary foods at school events as being the biggest source of sugar. “We had received complaints from parents who were unhappy that their children were eating sugary treats for school rewards and birthday celebrations without their knowledge and consent, sometime multiple times a week or even a day,” Gallegos said. He hopes that enforcing the no-sugar rule will appease parents.

This junk-food ban at schools started in Massachusetts. The schools which implemented this sugar rule saw impressive results in both middle and high schools. A study done by Northeastern University determined that in middle schools originally, only 13 percent of the food met state health standards. After the ban, 69 percent of the food met standards. In high schools, an original percent of 28 rose to 80 percent in one year under this sugar rule. Sleepy Hollow Elementary is hoping to see similar results. “We will be looking closely to see if less sugary food and treats has any nexus to improved behavior and/or academic performance,” Gallegos said.