FORT MILL — Parents won’t be able to bring homemade food into Fort Mill School District classrooms beginning in the fall.
The new rule is the result of a May 20 school board decision. It includes all schools in the district. It doesn’t include school festivals, bake sales or similar special events. It also doesn’t include student lunches.
“The policy talks about home-baked goods in classrooms,” said Marty McGinn, assistant superintendent for curriculum and human resources.
McGinn outlined several policy revisions and updates last week that the board unanimously approved. Included were policies on students skipping grades, home-school students participating in school competitions and others.
However, the move to eliminate homemade food in the classroom is a new policy. The district didn’t have anything set before before last week, allowing principals to set rules for their own schools.
“It’s school-by-school,” McGinn said.
The change begins in the fall with a new school year. District leaders didn’t want to put it in place just weeks ahead of end-of-year parties. McGinn said she met with staff from each school and parent liaison groups, saying the change was met with nearly universal support.
Kelly McKinney, spokesperson for the district, said the administration has concerns over the growing number of students with food allergies. The response is to require foods “that are commercially prepared, packaged and labeled” or were prepared in an “approved and licensed kitchen” for in-classroom activities, per the new policy.
“These new food allergy guidelines are designed to provide consistency in all our classrooms,” McKinney said.
“It is the district’s goal to minimize allergy risks while maintaining a safe and positive learning environment for all our students.”
Board Chairman Patrick White said he believes a main goal should be getting the word out ahead of parents who will be bringing food to classrooms to avoid problems.
“My fear is, somebody doesn’t know,” he said.
McGinn will continue looking for “any way that we can get the message out,” working with schools and parent groups to inform parents throughout the district.
That effort will continue through the summer into the fall, when the new policy begins.
John Marks • 803-831-8166