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Bittersweet send-off before school baked goods ban

Parents of Tooker Avenue Elementary School students bring

Parents of Tooker Avenue Elementary School students bring cupcakes to school to protest West Babylon school district's ban on homemade baked goods in classrooms. (Oct. 16, 2009) Credit: Mahala Gaylord

So long, sweetie.

Parents and students at Tooker Avenue Elementary School bid a bittersweet adieu to home-baked goods Friday on the final day of class before a West Babylon district policy goes into effect that allows only prepackaged snacks.

"Goodbye Homemade," read the blue icing piped on the vanilla-frosted cake carried in by parent Tracy Friedman, who has a second-grader in the school. "This is a sad day," she said. "We are saying goodbye to a kid's childhood."

Under the wellness policy that takes effect Monday, all snack foods would have to meet nutrition guidelines set by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation or the New York State Nutrition Association's Choose Sensibly guidelines.

Items on the association's guidelines include snacks such as baked chips, fruit pops made with real fruit, trail mix without nuts, low-fat pudding and animal crackers.

But Friday in a sugarcoated protest against the new policy, a cupcake brigade of parents showed up at the Tooker school for one last home-baked hoorah.

Melissa Clark, parent of a kindergartner, made Halloween cupcakes with orange, purple and black sprinkles. She said she had to make the cupcakes now because she would not be allowed to bring in the same treat for Halloween.

"It's not that I am against healthy choices," she said, adding that snacks can be had "in moderation. I don't see how taking away a cupcake for a birthday . . . really helps our kids. I think it is a little over the top."

Claire Conlon carried in cupcakes baked in ice cream cones for a party in her son's first-grade class.

"I'm very upset," Conlon said. "The kids are growing up too fast and you can't give them their cupcakes anymore."

West Babylon has been a leader in food policy and was the first Long Island district to participate in the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Parent Leslie Cozzi said the policy, which was passed 7-2 by the school board Tuesday, was rushed into place because district officials believed they were "embarrassingly behind" other schools.

However, a statement from the district issued Friday said the policy "represents the recommendations made by a districtwide wellness commission that convened in 2009. The committee was made up of representatives of all seven schools in the district including faculty and parents."

But West Babylon High student Skyla Bredekamp, 16, said she is part of the Blue and Gold dance group at the high school and the group often sold baked goods to raise funds for costumes.

"That is where we got most of our money, it helped a lot," she said. "Now, we will have absolutely no money."

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