Some Shawnee Mission elementaries moving away from birthday treats, asking parents to arrange ‘non-food’ celebrations

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A handful of Shawnee Mission School District elementaries are asking parents this year to refrain from bringing cakes, cookies or other sweets to their children’s classes to mark student birthdays.

Though the policy is not in place district wide, several elementary schools have sent messages this fall saying they are putting the guideline in place to address a number of concerns administrators have heard from parents in recent years. For one, with the growing prevalence of serious food allergies, administrators are concerned that birthday treats may contain ingredients that could pose a risk to some students’ health.

For another, with the rapid growth of weight problems and diabetic disorders among American youth, the schools feel an obligation to promote more healthy lifestyles among students.

Finally, building administrators are growing more sensitive to issues of equity among the families they serve, and don’t want to put pressure on families facing financial hardships to provide birthday treats for a whole class.

Corinth, Belinder, Rosehill, Benninghoven and Shawanoe are among the elementary schools that have moved to a “no birthday treats” guideline for the 2017-18 school year.