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Greenfield Public Schools

Snack attacks: Greenfield school board ruminates on healthier afterschool treats

GREENFIELD ­ — The Greenfield School Committee wants its food services department to start distributing healthier snacks to its students.

After discussing the issue for a half hour at a meeting earlier this month, the school board directed Bernie Novak, the department’s food services and nutrition director, to generate a list of healthier options. The snacks are distributed during afterschool programs at Newton School, Federal Street School and the Greenfield Middle School.

Novak, who later said he was not authorized to comment further, told the committee at its meeting that the snacks need to meet federal guidelines for the school department to receive government reimbursements.

And he said the state asks schools to select snacks from a specific list created by the John Stalker Institute at Framingham State College. Greenfield schools have followed that guideline, he said.

Food services staff didn’t respond to a request by The Recorder for a full list of the snacks routinely given out during the program.

But the offerings bothered some of the School Committee members, some of whom have children of their own attending Greenfield afterschool programs. Maryelen Calderwood, who chairs a subcommittee that takes on health issues, said she believes that the school department can be more creative in what food it offers to students.

And member Margaret Betts, who teaches at an Easthampton elementary school, said she was concerned about the sugar content in many of the snacks and that the school board shouldn’t “have to wait for someone to tell us that this is too much.”

Novak took issue with the discussion being held in an open forum, telling school board members that it was not their job to micromanage food services. He said his staff has tried to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables served to children, but that students typically won’t eat the items or will throw them at each other.

Still, he agreed to provide a list of healthier options to the school board. Member John Lunt told Novak that if the options cost more money, the school board will have a responsibility to increase funding in its budget for the program.

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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