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Halloween can be fun without the junk food

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Teachers at the SFUSD don’t use junk food as a reward for students’ performance or behavior. (Courtesy photo)
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OK, it’s time to admit something to everyone: I love Halloween.

I really do. There’s nothing better than getting into the spirit of the day, the goofy and scary costumes. When my kids were little, I loved taking them trick-or-treating and then, returning home, passing out treats and seeing whatever was the most popular costume that year.

Oh, and I love all the candy.

But I know better than to go all-out on sugar tomorrow.

In fact, we at the San Francisco Unified School District have high standards for our school food, food sales and even the food served at our celebrations, including Halloween.

Wellness Policy

Our Wellness Policy gives us a framework to promote healthy food choices for students, staff, and families.

Not only are we working to increase healthy eating and physical activity among our students, we are also committed to creating environments that support healthy choices all day long.

What does this look like?

First, our teachers, principals and all school staff are encouraged to promote healthy school environments by eating and drinking things that comply with our Nutrition Guidelines. This means — as many of us know very well in this day and age — foods that are low in saturated fats, sugar and preservatives.

Why do we care what the adults in our schools eat? Because, not only is it a good idea to avoid foods lacking nutrition, but we also know our students watch the adults in their lives and often pick up the same habits in life.

But we take our kids’ nutrition a step further: We ask that junk food not be used as a reward for students’ academic performance, accomplishments or even classroom behavior.

And, as you’ve likely heard, we’ve been steadily improving our school meals at the same time.

We’re not just trying to be fussy about what our staff and kids eat at school. As an educator, I can tell you first-hand that kids who are eating healthy food — by avoiding things like candy and soda and choosing healthy brain foods — are better prepared to learn.

Tomorrow is Halloween!

I’ll be out at a few school sites to join in the healthy fun. I’ll see kids collecting great stickers at parties, getting exercise during dance parties and downing some fresh-cut veggies and fruit.

Oh, and I might be in costume … Boo!

For more information on our Wellness Policy.

Vincent Matthews is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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