Standards for Holiday Parties and Celebrations

To: Palisades Parents/Guardians

From: Gerry Giarratana - Food Service Director

Re: Standards for Parties  & Holiday Celebrations

PLEASE SEE UPDATED:  Class Party Guidelines.pdf

The Palisades School District has adopted the Pennsylvania Department of Education Nutrition Standards. We have recently updated the Competitive Foods and Beverage Nutritional Standards; the guidelines can be found on the Palisades' Web page. The intent of these standards in particular, are to address the childhood obesity/diabetes epidemic, and in general provide the cleanest, most healthy, nutritious food possible to our children on the school premises. Our aim is to decrease, not eliminate, the amount of sugar and simple carbohydrates (white flour) in the menu, increase the amount of fresh, whole foods (meat, grains, fruits and vegetables) served, and reduce and eventually eliminate the use or sale of non-nutritive food additives and highly processed products.

Food In Classrooms/Parties

Celebrations at school provide a unique opportunity to help make healthful eating fun and exciting for children. If food is served, schools can take advantage of classroom celebrations to serve food that tastes good, and is nutritious. Celebrations with food may begin no earlier than 30 minutes after the last meal period of the regular school day. Birthday celebrations that involve food are encouraged to be combined and celebrated on a monthly basis. Classroom parties may offer a maximum of 3 food selections, with at least one of either fresh fruits and/or vegetables. Beverages may consist of water, 100% fruit juice or milk, skim or low-fat. The food service department will offer party lists/menus that include healthy food and beverage ideas that meet the guidelines. Food or beverages may not be withheld or used as a reward, incentive, or punishment for classroom or school activities. Food used as a reward may be teaching our students poor dietary habits and increasing their intakes of energy dense, low nutrient foods. Lunch period and time allotted for lunch and recess, is to be used for that purpose, unless approved by the parent and the principal for another function.

Please check with the teacher about allergies and/or specific restrictions before sending snacks for class. If you are asked to bring food, be sure to wash your hands before handling fruits and vegetables. Use clean counters, cutting boards and utensils. Keep fruits and vegetables refrigerated until they are served.

Healthy School Snacks

Fruit- Fresh, dried, frozen and pre-cut, ready to eat fruit. Children need about 1 ½ cups of fruit a day. Offer softer fruit or sliced apples or pears to young children. Layer banana slices with vanilla yogurt and frozen berries, make a pineapple and strawberry fruit kabob. Have students make trail mix by combining equal portions of dried chopped dates or figs, coconut and dried cranberries. Put grapes and bananas on a wooden skewer and freeze for fruit on a stick. Plums are nature's "fast food" - fresh or dried, they don't make a mess.

Vegetables- Children need about 1 ½ cups of vegetables a day. Dip cauliflower, broccoli florets, celery sticks, or strips of red, green, yellow or purple sweet peppers in low-fat dressing. Offer ready to eat vegetable "snack packs" Make veggies fun, radish roses, carrot curls, turnip stars.

Dairy - Cheese: reduced-fat or low-fat cheddar, Colby, cottage, Monterrey Jack, Mozzarella, string or other reduced-fat cheeses packaged and shaped in a variety of ways. Yogurt and pudding: non-fat and 1% yogurt and vitamin D fortified yogurt and pudding. Non-fat and 1% flavored and unflavored milk.

Grain- Whole -grain snack list a whole grain as the first ingredient. For example: whole wheat flour, whole grain corn, or whole oats. High-fiber snacks contain two or more grams of fiber per serving. Either whole-grain snacks or high-fiber snacks are best grain based snack choice. Instead of potato chips, try baked tortilla chips with salsa. Choose mostly snacks that contain less than 200 milligrams of sodium per serving. Try mini-bran muffins, whole grain cereals, whole wheat fig and mini-fig newtons, or granola.

For more information, go to:

A list of whole grain snacks is available at:

The Use of Nonfood Rewards in School

Rewards and incentives should be given careful consideration as to the messages they send to the students receiving them. Food may not be used as a reward or incentive in the classroom, but other more appropriate rewards can be used. Nonfood rewards promote a healthier school environment by encouraging healthy eating habits. When students are given candy, soda, and other sweets as a reward for good behavior and academic achievement, food becomes a primary motivator in their life. Because these foods have no nutritional value, using them as rewards contributes to poor eating habits.

Teachers and other school personnel will not:

Withhold food from a student as a consequence for inappropriate behavior or poor academic performance.

Prohibit or deny student participation in recess or other physical activity as a consequence for inappropriate behavior or poor academic performance.

Cancel recess or other physical activity time for instructional make-up time.


The following is a list of options for non-food rewards in the classroom. It is by no means a complete list; many additional ideas for non-food rewards exist.

Magnets, frisbees, pencils, pens, markers, books, bookmarks, activity game sheets, brainteasers, game time, reading time, extra recess, homework time, reading time in a special place (on the couch, outside), extra art time, computer time, be the helper, sit by friends, have lunch with the teacher or principal, have lunch outdoors, watch a fun video, show and tell, have free choice time, take a fun physical break, have lunch in the classroom, listen to a book or a tape, or receive a "no homework" pass.