On October 16, G.P. Vanier Students mounted an impromptu protest at what they deem an extreme healthy food policy by the HPSD.
Without any consultation the policy was announced on October 16.
“Ms. Lessard came to our class and talk about this new policy, what it actually meant and what is going to happen,” says Sydney Tardif. “”I think the school is willing and open to helping us, but we cannot have anything deemed unhealthy, including juice, chocolate milk, white flour, sugar, which is a bit extreme and that is why so many people are frustrated right now.”
The students are upset because they see the policy as encroaching on their annual fundraising activities.
They also object to HPSD implementing this new food policy without telling anyone about it not even the teachers.
“When we started school we got our pizza order forms that we get every year and then they took the order forms back because we are not allowed to order the pizza,” says Seth Labrecque, who along with Sydney Tardif organized the protest.
When Tardif and Labrecque decided to mount the protest they thought they would be just two lone dissenting voices outside the school.
“It started out with me and Seth deciding that we should really do something about it.” says Tardif. “We thought we were going to be the only two standing out here. Then, all of a sudden, people saw us with our signs and they said OK let’s join in, and it became a big thing.”
The students are also concerned that the new policy will encroach on their annual fundraising initiatives.
“We have our bake sales for graduation and a whole bunch of other stuff that we can’t do that now and the same with the band, they can’t sell their chocolates because it’s unhealthy,” says student, Kellie Bouvier.
Many of those fundraising events are also seen as long standing school traditions.
“Like cultural things too: we have a pierogi and sausage fundraiser and it’s not right to say that those foods traditional to Ukrainian culture are wrong to eat,” says Tardif.
“We need some moderation,” says Labrecque.
However, HPSD Superintendent Laura Poloz points out that the policy called “Healthy Schools,” has been in place since 2012.
Working with three categories: choose most often foods, choose sometimes and choose almost never, the strategy has been to gradually move the foods HPSD serves its students to 80 percent in the choose most often and 20 percent to the choose sometimes category and completely eliminate foods from the almost never category.