WALLINGFORD — The Board of Education Operations Committee voted Monday to recommend reinstatement of full-week elementary school snack sales. Elementary school snacks were only sold on Wednesdays during the months of September and October.
Previously, most schools offered them every day of the week during lunch.
The recommendation will now be brought before the full school board at its Nov. 25 meeting.
Committee members discussed the issue extensively, with members taking into account effects of snack sales on finances and children’s health, parent reaction, and input from principals.
Sharlene Wong, the district food services director, said her department’s budget had suffered a loss of over $11,000 over the first two months of the school year due to the reductions in snack sales.
Committee member Christine Mansfield said having seen the data from the first two months she could not see the rationale of continuing to “jeopardize the cafeteria budget with a program that isn’t working out of the gate.”
Board of Education Vice-Chairman Chet Miller said the decision should not be based on financial considerations because board members knew ahead of time that snack sale reductions would impact the bottom line.
Members also offered conflicting accounts of parents’ response to the program. Some related anecdotes of parents who had expressed gratitude to school officials because the snack limits had caused their children to lose weight.
But, Mansfield said she was hearing negative feedback from parents regarding the change.
There was no disagreement about where district elementary principals stood on the subject. Assistant Superintendent Shawn Parkhurst said he had met with administrators of all eight of the district’s elementary schools, and they had unanimously supported the continuation of curtailed snack availability, citing the eased burden upon cafeteria aides, teachers, and administration in monitoring kids’ dietary intake.
However, committee member Michael Votto argued that administrators should not have the final say.
“With all due respect to the principals, we’re the Board of Education,” he said.
Votto said he supported the return of full-week snacks because it is inconsistent for schools to emphasize teaching students to make good choices and take personal responsibility for their decisions in other aspects, but not in their own diets.
Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said that regardless of the decision reached by the committee, some people would be upset. “There’s no perfect solution,” he said.
After further conversation, the committee backed the return of daily snack availability. Only one member cast a negative vote.