Local parents raise concerns over proposed B.C. food guidelines updates

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Local parents are raising some concerns over the proposed B.C. food guidelines.

School District 60’s superintendent, Stephen Petrucci, spoke with Energeticcity about the proposed changes earlier this month, which caused a stir among some parents in the community.

After the story was posted on social media, residents took to the comment section with many believing that the changes would be an overreach by the provincial government.

“I understand the need for healthy options, but many schools have lower income families where it could be the best meal they have all week, fed is better than the need to enforce health for something once or twice a month! Let people have treats. I do agree if there is a meal option every day then yes having a healthier program is beneficial,” wrote one resident.

A common concern raised was the effects on school fundraisers such as bake sales.

One parent told Energeticcity that parent advisory councils rely on the funds from fundraisers and would be negatively affected by the guidelines.

The individual is a former employee with the district and wished to remain anonymous.

With many children accessing school lunch programs, they’re concerned about how dull the meals will be with the new guidelines.

“Removing something from a child’s life isn’t “education”, it would feel like a consequence to them. Sure there should be more awareness around food, but completely taking away all “bad” treats that our kiddos enjoy at school isn’t the way to bring this awareness,” wrote another resident on social media.

The province’s food guidelines were last updated in 2013, and the province is looking to align with the 2019 updates to Canada’s Food Guide.

Some of the changes to the guidelines include going from the minimal nutrition standard to providing “the gold standard”. The proposed changes will apply to food and beverages sold, offered, and served, compared to the current guidelines that only apply to sales.

Petrucci was contacted to address these concerns and says he didn’t want to respond directly to the concerns.

“What I can tell you is how the district is approaching these new proposed guidelines,” said Petrucci.

He says the most important goal is to provide food and nutrition for students, especially those who really need it and cannot get it otherwise.

Petrucci also reiterates that there is nothing in effect yet, and the guidelines are described as a voluntary set of best practices.

“So to be clear, it does not sound like a night and day or from one day to the next that everything has changed,” he adds.

The school district is trying to balance what students will eat and what they know is healthy for them.

He says that he wants to provide the healthiest food possible for the students through the programs already in place and would like to make changes when and where they can.

Petrucci explains that these guidelines are flexible.

“It would be more a question of where do we start? How do we transition over time and to do it in a way that doesn’t really impact negatively the feeding of children.”

“This is something we’re going to collaborate on over the next few months.”

The province’s survey on the proposed changes is still open until April 30th.

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