Grand Forks Public Schools Remove Birthday Treats From Classroom - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Grand Forks Public Schools Remove Birthday Treats From Classroom

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As of Nov. 1, Grand Forks Public School students will find a different way to share their birthday celebration with peers.

Out of concern for student allergies, the district enforced a new policy for birthday treats brought in by students.

"The small little part that we're going to take out is the bringing of cupcakes or the cakes and things like that just because it poses a threat to other students that may have allergic reactions because of that," says Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Jody Thompson.

For years, students were able to bring store-bought treats to celebrate birthdays. Now, Grand Forks Public School students can't bring those either.

"Even store-bought treats may not list all of the ingredients or where the product is manufactured," he says.

Thompson says he has seen an increase in student allergies through the years.

"We have over 400 students that are on special diets because of food-type allergies or dietary restrictions," he says. 

The district made the decision in late October and spread the word through the November school newsletter and PTO meetings.

"I think the word has gotten out, obviously, and trying to communicate the rationale behind the decision is as important as the decision itself," he says.

Thompson says he has spoken to many parents for the policy, and others against it.

"If we had to choose a cupcake or a piece of cake or the safety of students health and well-being, obviously we are going to side with a student's safety and well-being," he says. 

Thompson says that birthday celebrations will continue within the district outside of cake or candy. Students are encouraged to bring pencils, stickers, games or recess toys to share.

Original Story

The Grand Forks Public School District has a new policy in place that has a lot of parents talking. Parents received letters from the principals at each school stating that children can no longer celebrate their birthday with snacks.

The new policy is in effect as of November 1. Administrative Secretary Taunya Schleicher passed along the written policy to Valley News Live and  it reads as follows:

"Due to the increase of students who have severe food allergies and the high levels of severity we will no longer be celebrating student birthdays with a "birthday snack" in our schools starting November 1, 2013. Parents are welcome to find other non-food items to send to school if they wish. For example: Donating a book for the classroom library, or a game for indoor recess, or playground equipment for outdoor recess. Thank you for your support in providing a safe environment for all our students."

Valley News Team's Mellaney Moore is in Grand Forks talking with school officials and parents about the pros and cons of the new policy. Watch for the full story tonight on Valley News Live at 6:00 p.m.

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