- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

ANKENY, Iowa (AP) - The school district in Ankeny has adopted a new policy banning homemade and store-bought treats from classroom celebrations.

The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1WhQTpH ) reports that the decision comes on the heels of schools nationwide eliminating Valentine’s Day parties to replace them with generic celebrations.

Ankeny schools’ chief operating officer, Matt Adams, said the policy change ensures that every student can participate, including those with allergies or those who are unable to afford store-bought snacks.

The district’s policy says permitted food must be purchased through the district’s food service department items, which are healthier and limit allergen exposure.

According to a food order sheet for Friday’s “friendship parties,” two-dozen cookies cost $16.80, two-dozen Rice Krispies bars cost $24 and two dozen packets of baby carrots with ranch cost $18.

Crystal Walker-Smith, a parent of a fourth-grader at Rock Creek Elementary School, said that is often a higher cost than a $3 bag of suckers.

“It’s just frustrating,” Walker-Smith said. “I get it to a certain point, but I think they’ve taken it too far.”

As an alternative, the school district has encouraged students to bring gifts like pencils, eraser or small toys to exchange with classmates.

It’s important for students to learn how to accommodate others and make compromises, said Alyson Pearson, a licensed independent social worker at Central Iowa Psychological Services. Pearson, a parent of a child with severe food allergies, said it’s also important for her daughter to learn that the world won’t always accommodate her.

“You don’t have to get rid of things because it doesn’t work for everybody. You just tweak things to find what works,” she said. “That’s kind of what life is about.”

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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