The Philadelphia Veterans Affairs office announced Wednesday that it would hold a Halloween parade on Friday for children of VA employees, but warned employees not to hand out any candy or sweets to the kids.
Instead, the VA said the day care center in the office has “joined First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Program,” which means the kids should be given things other than candy.
“Please help us teach our children to make healthy food choices!!” the VA said in an email to employees.
“If you would like to hand out treats during the parade, please give healthy snacks such as pretzels, raisins, granola bars and sliced apples,” it said. “NO CANDY PLEASE!”
“You may want to consider gifts such as pencils, crayons and rings instead of snacks,” it added.
Michelle Obama has been a strong supporter of ensuring kids eat better and get more exercise, and played a role in pushing for legislation aimed at revising federal nutrition standards for school lunches. Those standards have come under heavy criticism for not offering enough calories for kids, especially students involved in sports or other activities.
Schools have complained that many kids are throwing away the fruits and vegetables that are mandated in meals. That increased waste means higher compliance costs for schools, and for little purpose, as kids aren’t getting the nutrition envisioned by the law.
Complaints have also been raised that school administrators and other public officials are trying to set the bar even higher, through events such as the Philly VA’s Halloween parade.
While the Philly VA has adopted the First Lady’s push for healthy food, it is one of several VA offices that is part of the health care scandal that broke earlier this year. Major VA facilities across the country worked to push off veterans’ requests for health care, and then cover up the long wait times that thousands of veterans faced.