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The cupcake police: Stop! In the name of lard!

Here is a question for the Manchester Board of School Committee: What children are becoming obese on birthday party cupcakes?

The school board’s Coordination Committee on Tuesday approved revisions to the district’s nutrition guidelines. Some of the revisions make sense. Serving sizes for high-calorie beverages (fruit juice, yogurt drinks, etc.) are reduced to age-appropriate portions, for instance. But the committee got carried away when it went about trying to micromanage in-class birthday celebrations.

The new policy recommends to teachers that they hold only one class birthday party per month “unless nutrition standards for healthy snacks are followed.” If parents want to send apple slices to school with their little darlings, then it’s birthday parties galore. If they want to send cupcakes, it’s one treat per kid per month.

“If there were three birthdays in a week, a student could have cupcakes three times,” Sue Sheehy, the school district’s consultant dietitian, said.

Oh, NO! Not three cupcakes in one week!

The most sensible comment on the matter was from school board member Debra Gangnon Langton, a sixth-grade teacher. “I don’t think we should be the food police,” she said. “I don’t want to hear that can’t happen. It’s a child’s special day.”

It will not be so special after it is micromanaged into a dull, gray, joyless, politically correct lesson in good nutrition.

This is not about making sure the school cafeteria serves healthy lunches. It is not really about obesity. It is about the desire to dictate choices down to the very snack foods children can enjoy on their birthdays. If this policy passes, it is a small step to dictating the contents of brown-bag lunches and mom-packed mid-morning snacks. Let the children enjoy their birthdays, cake and all.

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