Parents upset over stricter healthy foods policy for New Brunswick schools

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WATCH: Concerns are being raised over New Brunswick’s new health foods policy, as schools cancel bake sales, pizza parties and cake walks. Shelley Steeves reports.

Some New Brunswick parents are upset over changes to the province’s public school nutrition policy.

Classes only begin next week and some schools have already had to cancel annual school fundraisers such as bake sales, pizza parties, and cake walks because the food served and sold at the events has been banned under the new policy changes.

Moncton mother, Heather McDonald, prides herself on feeding her kids healthy foods. But she feels the province’s stricter healthy food policy for schools revised this past June has gone too far.

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“I have no problem with every-now-and-then snacks and I certainly have no problems with fundraising for specials things with snacks” said McDonald

She says the province’s revised public school nutrition policy was only revealed to her home and school parent’s group this week. She says the list of foods they can now use for school fundraisers is so restrictive, they’ve been forced to cancel events like a their mason jar sales, which are often filled with candy treats, and an annual cake walk.

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“It takes the fun out of fundraising,” said her husband, Robby.

McDonald’s children attend Birchmount School.  Their home and school group had to cancel their fall fair that typically raises $10,000 to buy things like school supplies, which she says are underfunded by the province.

“Last year, our art teacher ran out of paper for art class and our music teacher was not able to continue the jazz band because we did not have cleaning supplies to clean the instruments,” she said.

McDonald says fundraising dollars are also used to buy lunches and snacks for students whose families struggle to buy food.

“It is going to affect our neediest students in ways that nobody was thinking about when they made the policy,” she said.

READ: School junk food bans have positive impact on weight: New Brunswick health economist

She completely supports healthier options in school cafeterias, but says banning pizza parties, birthday cakes and cupcake days is unfair. She says the province should not be including fundraising activities in the food restrictions.

“We are not sure how we are going to be able to afford the things on the list. That is the biggest thing,” she said.

She explains that fresh fruit is much more expensive than the granola bars they typically purchase to supplement snacks.

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A spokesperson for the province would not comment on the matter and directed Global News to the province’s news release back in June and to the website where the policy changes and food restrictions are outlined in full detail.

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Anglophone East School District Superintendent Gregg Ingeroll says he has been getting calls from principals who are concerned about the changes.

“Our principals are concerned because they rely on those funds to do the extra things that they do for kids in the school,” he said.

“There are always concerns when a school had a funding source that they relied on and now there is a chance that that funding source may not be there or be less than it was in the past.”

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He says that schools are going to have to adjust for that and groups are going to have to change the way they do their fundraising.

The New Brunswick Teachers’ Association is upset that teachers were not consulted about the policy changes. President George Daley says teachers are already relying on funds raised by home and school groups to pay for school supplies not adequately funded by the province.

“If you have less resources coming into your building to pay for those costs, the money has to come from somewhere,” he said.

McDonald says her home and school group is now scrambling to find profitable fundraisers that don’t rely on selling or serving food to raise funds.