Schools step up birthday cake bans over safety fears

Brooke Rolfe
·News Reporter
·3-min read

Schools are cracking down on celebrating the birthdays of students with cake over concerns it could compromise coronavirus hygiene protocols and put healthy eating policies in jeopardy.

A host of public and private schools last year banned cake due to Covid-19 food-sharing limitations, with some continuing the ban into 2021.

Greta Primary School in the NSW Hunter Region is one of the latest schools to enforce the cake ban, encouraging classes to instead arrange for a box of icy poles to be delivered from the canteen.

Child sitting behind birthday cake with candles.
Birthday cakes have been banned in several NSW schools over concers for students' health. Source: Getty Images

"As Covid encourages parents not to bring cupcakes for their child's birthday, the canteen will do a 'Birthday Bucket'," the school's newsletter stated.

"The 'bucket' has enough sugar free Zooper Dooper ice blocks for your child's class, delivered at a time when the teacher says is convenient to their learning day."

Ice blocks will cost each student 40 cents and the boxes have to be organised two weeks in advance.

Birthday cakes pose treat to school's 'health eating' policy

Students at Wollondilly Anglican College in the Wollondilly Shire, on the southwest fringe of Sydney, have been banned from birthday cakes and treats for the whole of 2021.

Pastoral care coordinator Lisa Maher said there were too many "birthday treats" entering the school each week in 2020, and thus posing a threat to the school's healthy eating policy.

"Birthdays are special and many children love sharing their special day by bringing in a cake or treats to share with their classmates at the college," she wrote in a November newsletter

"While this is a lovely gesture, the number of birthday treats coming into the college each day is causing concern.

"Most weeks see a birthday or two from each class, sometimes several on one day. This makes it difficult to promote our healthy eating policy amongst the junior years."

Greta Public School.
Greta Public School is one of several in NSW to ban cake in classrooms. Source: Google Maps

She added preparing and organising treats placed "additional stress" on parents who might not have time or money to cater for the occasion.

"Students will no longer be able to bring class cakes or birthday treats to school. Teachers will ensure your child’s birthday does not go unnoticed and they are made to feel special on this important day," she added.

Parents at Manly Village Public School have been asked to buy ice blocks to celebrate the birthdays of their children, while New Lambton South Public school in Newcastle has banned cakes due to health concerns, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Bishop Tyrell Anglican College, also in Newcastle, has enforced a blanket ban on outside food, claiming it posed an allergy risk, the publication reported.

Department of Education responds to cake bans

The NSW Department of Education said it was up to each school to make decisions on banning cakes for student birthdays.

"Each school sets their own policy on birthday cakes and celebrations. This has been in place for many years," a spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.

"Schools are best placed to make decisions about food as there may be children in the classroom with food allergies or special dietary requirements that restrict and/or prohibit their food intake."

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