[Spencer Daily Reporter nameplate] Fair ~ 68°F  
High: 75°F ~ Low: 53°F
Thursday, May 5, 2016

Spencer updates wellness policy

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Each year, a portion of the Spencer school district's policies are reviewed by the board in a rotation that allows the entire policy to be updated every three years.

But even though the 500-series of documents - which includes the wellness policy - was scheduled to be reviewed this year, the board moved this specific policy up and approved updates at the most recent board meeting.

"We want the students and staff to be healthy and to lead healthy lifestyles," Superintendent Terry Hemann said.

The new policy includes several changes as required by updated state and federal guidelines, specifically the Healthy Kids Act. A few changes were also made to help Spencer schools become Blue Zones certified.

"This updated policy came from a team of people, including students, parents, teachers, administrators school board members," said Alison Simpson, Blue Zones program director. "We took general feedback from the community in July, through focus groups. We wanted to best address the needs and desires of the community."

The updated policy, which will become enacted immediately, will promote "proper dietary habits contributing to students' health status and academic performance."

One goal of the policy is to "make every effort to eliminate any social stigma to, and prevent the overt identification of, students who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals."

One step to eliminating this stigma, Simpson noted at the most recent school board meeting, is encouraging classrooms to celebrate birthdays with a fun activity instead of with a birthday treat.

"When a student can't have a snack for the whole class, the teacher or administration fills the gap," Simpson said. "When you add the rising level of allergies and diabetes, there are always kids singled out with snacks."

In addition to updating nutrition guidelines, the policy also works to update physical activity.

"We're encouraging kids to walk to school, especially with the Walking School Buses," Hemann said.

He continued, "It's our job to educate children on healthy choices and lifestyles."

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on spencerdailyreporter.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

No. Its not your "job to educate children on healthy choices and lifestyles", its your job to educate children, regardless of their size or physical ability or health issue. Bully the fat kid at school. Thats what some kids will learn from this. Its the parents job to teach healthy lifestyles.

-- Posted by brian48 on Thu, Jan 31, 2013, at 4:03 AM

Healthy food, and only healthy food, should be severed at school.

-- Posted by Cookster on Thu, Jan 31, 2013, at 7:04 AM

There are many definitions of healthy. Low calorie is okay, but what if your kid is at least 20 pounds underweight? In our house, we eschew most processed foods and avoid synthetic chemicals when we can. We still have a pretty basic Midwestern diet of hot dishes, chili, pasta, and quick breads, but with as much made from scratch as possible, we find we're all healthier and I'm losing weight in spite of not being on a diet.

I'd rather my child eat a homemade cupcake for a birthday at school than a chemical bar of supposed granola in a factory shrink wrap. But we can't do that anymore, and I think that's much to the detriment of the social aspect of school. If we could make homemade cakes and cookies for snacks, I would personally be happy to make a batch for the classmates of whichever child it is whose parents cannot afford flour, eggs and sugar (or who does not have a working stove at home).

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Thu, Jan 31, 2013, at 8:57 AM

i'm sorry but i find it sad kids can't bring a birthday treat. that was always a fun day at school when someone brought treats

-- Posted by Spencer Lifer on Thu, Jan 31, 2013, at 10:36 AM

I'm always curious how focus groups are put together in Spencer. More often than not, it seems to be the gathering of some buddies to talk some stuff over, and assuming what they feel is what the rest of the community wants.

-- Posted by a-thought-or-two on Thu, Jan 31, 2013, at 12:24 PM

Wondering how kids can walk to school when they must take the bus across town...and what ever happened to all the money and plans for safe routes to school since the one grade school thing came about?

-- Posted by Cookster on Thu, Jan 31, 2013, at 6:43 PM

This is the Blue Zones first steps to take over you lives. They have launched an all out war of the Cattlemen Association , Pork Producers and Poultry Producers. All red meat is bad according to them and want you to only eat what they say is good for you. There indoctrinating our children into there ways. Wellmark should be ashamed of themselves. They say that this will reduce healthcare cost by 40% and then in Jan. have a hearing with the insurance commission and ask for a 12.2% increase on there policy's. PEOPLE OF SPENCER PLEASE WAKE UP. There helping the people of Spencer WOW what a joke.

-- Posted by wokenup on Thu, Jan 31, 2013, at 7:08 PM

I think it's time to ask the governor to License Charter schools in Iowa. We need to get our children out of this environment. Charter Schools are the answer to better education with less Government control.

-- Posted by wokenup on Thu, Jan 31, 2013, at 7:17 PM

"eliminate social stigma" ? This is the crap that causes social stigma!

-- Posted by brian48 on Fri, Feb 1, 2013, at 3:43 AM

If we're trying to get rid of the "stigma" here's what we need to do:

Make sure all the kids have all the same brand of clothes and shoes, and no one knows where some kids get their versus where others do and who wears Nikes versus who wears Walmart shoes.

Make sure the wonderful backpacks that are distributed to kids who need food on the weekends is done in a manner that the other kids don't know it is happening.

Make sure everyone who loses their hats, mittens, boots, school bags, coats, etc, etc, etc, get it instantly replaced and they don't go without because their parents can't afford it.

How exactly do people know who gets free and reduced lunches when lunches are bought by ID number?

Maybe, just maybe, we should focus on teaching compassion, stick to educating about bullying and how to prevent it, and pretend that this entire thing isn't about the Blue Zone Initiative getting into our schools.

-- Posted by a-thought-or-two on Fri, Feb 1, 2013, at 7:40 AM

Of course parents should be teaching their children about making healthy food choices. They should also be teaching them to tie their shoes (preferably by kindergarten), how to deal with bullies, sexual education... the list goes on. However, many parents do not. Either we let their children fall through the cracks, or we pick up the slack at school. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to see a child come to school with a lunch bag full of candy bars, Little Debbies, chips, and a soda; yet, the same kids (the ones who are "too picky" to eat the school lunch) do on a daily basis. Some of those parents clearly aren't bothering to instill any sort of healthy eating habits in their children- the least we can do is spend 1/2 an hour during the week addressing it, or even just providing a good example by providing healthy snacks while at school.

-- Posted by notinia on Fri, Feb 1, 2013, at 10:37 AM

And once again, what about physical education. My every season athlete is required to take PE even though he spends countless hours in sports practice and extra weight lifting while band and vocal kids can opt out of PE...again. PE should be a requirement with no opt out for all or the opt out should be available to each student. Ideally, I would like to see PE address each individual child's needs based on their current health issues. Oh yeah, and playing cards in PE is just stupid.

-- Posted by Leah Cauthron on Fri, Feb 1, 2013, at 11:15 AM

I agree Leah, teaching people health and nutrition will go a long way toward solving the health care crisis. Kids need PE and should take some form. All people eat and excert themselves all thier lives. Having some education in these essential acts of life seems sensible.

-- Posted by Cookster on Fri, Feb 1, 2013, at 2:12 PM

I wish lifelong activities was available from middle school on. Maybe middle schoolers need organized games, but I don't think so. I'll bet a lot more of them as well as high-schoolers would happily participate if they could choose, say, a walk-to-running partner or two and help each other with fitness goals that way. Have some playing racquetball or using the climbing wall. Just so they're engaged in something. Many girls and less-coordinated boys are not getting anything out of it when the confidently athletic boys hog the ball, snatch the ball out of someone's hands, or otherwise make the organized games all about them.

Some kids are oriented toward team sports; some would be thrilled to compete with themselves in running, swimming, climbing and similar.

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Fri, Feb 1, 2013, at 5:13 PM

School Pledge Actions


* Establish a health-and-wellness council that meets

regularly at the school.

* Enforce a tobacco-free campus.

* Stop using unhealthy foods for school fundraisers and

replace them with foods that meet Blue Zones Guidelines

for healthy foods.

* Limit vending machine access during the school day.

* Ensure all snacks meet Blue Zones Guidelines for healthy

foods and beverages, including vending machines, a la

carte lines, snack lines, snack carts, etc.

* Prohibit soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages on

campus, including soda brought in from home.

* Redesign the school lunchroom to nudge students into

choosing healthier foods.

* Discontinue using food and food coupons as rewards or

incentives by teachers or school staff.

* Prohibit unhealthy food and beverage advertisements

(e.g., sodas, sweets, etc.) on school grounds.

* Update cafeteria equipment to support provision of

* Make unhealthy food options, such as desserts and drinks, available for purchase with cash only--not cards.

* Celebrate birthdays and other events involving food a month only.

* Prohibit consumption of food and beverages, other water, in classrooms and hallways.

* Integrate physical activity into daily lesson plans --

outside of physical education class.

* Incorporate nutrition education into the curriculum.

* Never use physical activity as a punishment.

* Require that students are physically active during majority of time in physical education class.

* Require 150 minutes per week (elementary schools)

and 225 minutes per week (middle and high schools) physical activity for all students.

* Require twenty minutes of recess daily for students elementary school.

* Offer recess before lunch (elementary school only).

This is what the schools policies thru the Blue Zone just so you know what SOME of it intails. Some are good and some are common sense and some are just a "Really?"

-- Posted by acerdj on Sun, Feb 3, 2013, at 5:57 AM

Some good ideas!

-- Posted by Cookster on Sun, Feb 3, 2013, at 8:59 AM

tl;dr - Physical activity should be the focus.

What if the school started putting kids on those thousands of dollars worth of trek bikes in the shed?

We rode them twice in the four years I was there, I spent more time doing tuneups on them when I worked at the local bike shop..

I remember in weights, all the lazy kids would do "cardio" that consisted of walking around the upper halls and pretending to run when the teacher was near.

Why not ACTUALLY get these kids to do something as opposed to focusing on the football players benching..

I get having the kids eat healthy at school, but doesn't them going home and eating a box of gushers negate that? The workout stays with the kid, even when he goes and pigs out.

I feel the physical activity part needs to be stressed much more than it is.

-- Posted by PleaseThink on Mon, Feb 4, 2013, at 12:43 PM

One could also argue that once they are out of school they could start leading a sedentary lifestyle and will Need good eating habits to make up for that. Why can't we have both? I don't get why some people get SO upset with schools feeding their kids healthy food. Do we not see an obesity EPIDEMIC right in front of us? If you are so offended by healthy meals no one is forcing you to make your kids eat it. Pack em a lunch! And as far as home made treats go, they have discouraged those for a few years now simply due to inability to control what is put in the treat. A few years back, there was a story about a kid who brought pot brownies to his class. Aren't there any families out there you wouldn't really want feeding your child?

-- Posted by smalltowntots on Wed, Feb 6, 2013, at 9:14 PM

Of course the school should provide healthy food to students.

This Blue Zones business feels a bit cultish to me.

On another note. I like pie.

-- Posted by HergerSeamas on Thu, Feb 7, 2013, at 3:52 PM

I read this article the other day and had two thoughts. The first was I did not see anything on the list that really seemed that bad. I really see nothing wrong with eating healthier. On the other hand it made me wonder if it could also have a negative effect on the children when they are older. Teaching healthy eating habits makes sense. Conversely if you do not let them have any "treats" this may cause binge eating at other times.

To further make me question the sincerity of the "School Pledge Actions" that were supplied above is the school lunch menu. I have not paid much attention to it but I happened to look at it for this month. It is almost all Pizza, chicken strips, burgers etc. It appears that teaching true healthy lifestyle decision making is being turned into ad campaign.

-- Posted by deweyh on Fri, Feb 8, 2013, at 9:43 AM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: