With a few bags of Doritos and Baked Lays, the city Department of Education (DOE) is trying to make amends with Brooklyn’s Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA).
Parents have criticized the DOE’s new rules limiting bake sales in schools, as they prevent PTAs from raising money for educational programs. Now, the DOE has agreed to allow PTAs to hold once-a-month bake sales loaded with homemade cupcakes — and regular sales of pre-approved packaged foods.
Snacks are pre-packaged so nutrition information is available for students.
The DOE believes this is a way for PTAs and student groups to continue to raise money and provide students with reasonably healthy grub.
The approved foods include granola bars, popcorn and cereal bars, as well as baked potato chips, reduced-fat Doritos, whole grain Pop-Tarts and two-packs of chocolate chip cookies.
Some Brooklyn parents wonder how some of the approved foods can be healthy.
“How anyone can laud the nutritional merits of a Pop-Tart is beyond me,” said Martha Foote, whose son attends P.S. 321 in Park Slope.
“A lot of that stuff is high in sodium and calories,” noted Mario Aguila, president of School District 14’s Community Education Council (CEC), which represents schools in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
Foote would rather have her son eat a homemade brownie than a bag of chips.
She objects to “our children eating processed foods that I would not allow my children to eat at home, for instance Pop-Tarts or Doritos.”
Aguila is concerned about kids eating any kind of junk food.
“If you are going to let your kids keep eating all this garbage, it’s not healthy,” he said. “I wish they had another way of raising funds for the PTA.”
Martine Guerrier, the DOE’s chief family engagement officer, has encouraged parents to find other ways to raise revenue for local schools.
“There are opportunities to fund-raise by partnering with organizations,” Guerrier said in Brooklyn recently. “Or opening flea markets.”
“There are a lot of other things that schools are doing to raise money. Candy [sales] are just one of them,” she added. “They’re doing T-shirts, sweatshirts. There’s a lot more we can do beyond candy.”