Monday, December 15, 2008

Bah Humbug to Cupcake Ban!

Violence, drugs, too many students, not enough funding—so many problems besiege our schools, which one should we tackle first? Fortunately, a few years ago, the Connecticut State Department of Education came up with an answer.

It’s the cupcakes, see. Something has got to be done about the cupcakes.

You know the story: It’s a Winter Celebration (don't you dare call it a Christmas Party!) in Ms. Jenkins’ first-grade class, and Billy’s mom has whipped up some Funfetti cupcakes. So have Olivia’s mom, Joey’s mom, and Katie’s mom. In fact, seventeen mothers baked cupcakes for this one party—all but guaranteeing their children a spot in the Childhood Obesity Club of America, the membership of which currently swells at nine million-plus.

Eat a cupcake, become a statistic—it’s that simple.

In response to the cupcake menace, back in January 2006, The Connecticut State Department of Education created The Action Guide for School Nutrition and Physical Activity Policies, a handbook for helping school districts develop “wellness” plans that meet state and federal mandates.

Fearing they would lose their funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, schools said goodbye to french fries and soda machines, and hello to Baked Cheetos and rice milk.

A fine first step, indeed, but what of those hedonistic romps we call classroom celebrations?

Now, don’t fret, Ms. Jenkins: the Connecticut Department of Education is not outlawing classroom parties all together (yet). The Action Guide merely says that “food and beverages served at school celebrations and parties must meet the district and nutrition standards.” To that end, the Action Guide provides “Ideas for Healthy Foods,” nutritional alternatives to those insidious cupcakes, such as ham, cheese, or turkey sandwiches (with low-fat condiments); carrots with peanut butter and raisins; or vegetable trays with low-fat dip.

Mmmmmmmmm! Veggies with low-fat dip! What first-grader could resist?

The Action Guide outlines other benefits that accompany the “de-cupcaking” of Connecticut classrooms. For example, in deference to children with special diets, the Action Guide recommends that school districts “discourage the sharing of food and beverages.” Thank goodness someone finally said it: there’s far too much sharing among our young people today. We must stop this incessant sharing, before it gets out of hand.

As I said, the Action Guide does not actually prohibit school celebrations—although certainly that would be ideal. In our country, schools were built to resemble factories, and in factories, we work. Enjoyment—even the fleeting enjoyment represented by a cupcake—has no place in our public schools. In this respect, schools must be like celery—bland and flavorless, perhaps, but something you must suffer through in order to become better, stronger citizens.

You may be wondering: "Why not just have some communication among the parents? Can't it be arranged so just one mom brings in the cupcakes, instead of seventeen moms? Can't we keep the classroom celebrations, but just tone it all down a little?"

Nice try... but those who think this obviously fail to see that cupcakes are gateway desserts. One cupcake will launch you into a lifetime battle with Chubby Hubby, Betty Crocker, and Sara Lee.

Of course, these classroom celebration restrictions will meet some initial resistance, as Billy, Olivia, and all the moms from Ms. Jenkins class long for the cupcake-ravaged parties of yesteryear. But they’ll soon come on board. After all, we’re talking about a program to fight childhood obesity… what kind of jerk would find fault with that?

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