April Fool from the RoundTable

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In October 2018, Evanston will become the fourth city in the United States to at least partially ban candy distribution in favor of nutrition information leaflets.

Staff met with community residents April 1 to discuss the City’s participation in a nationwide initiative launched in 2016 by Berkeley, California-based Nutritionists Against Non-Nutritious Yucky Sweets (NANNY). That organization is largely credited for pushes behind successful Halloween candy bans in Berkeley as well as Madison, Wisconsin and Hershey, Pennsylvania.

A “grassroots, social media-based collective” of concerned Evanston parents pushed for the ban this past Spring and City health officials eagerly got on board.

“Every year, my children love dressing in costume for Halloween, but the only way they can take part in trick-or-treating is by supplicating themselves for harmful sweets to strangers,” said Nezza Lee, who organized a Facebook group once she learned of the NANNY program.

“People don’t realize they are part of the problem when they push sugared sweets on our children,” said Ms. Lee. “Those children might suffer from cavities or hyperactivity.”

Ms. Lee and other supporters of the ban are suggesting that Evanston residents distribute colorful leaflets and fliers promoting good nutrition instead of candy or other edibles.

“Kids will love the vigorous walk and they’ll love reading about fruit-and-veggie fun facts,” she speculated.

City staff apparently agree. On April 1, they submitted a budget item to the Human Services Committee for a bulk purchase of nutrition leaflets from NANNY; the Committee is expected to take up the resolution at its next meeting.

Buzz E. Bodet, who opposed the ban at the April 1 meeting, noted that NANNY Executive Director Pam de Terre, a prominent fruit-industry lobbyist, was roommates at Oberlin College with both Ms. Lee and Ald. Patricia Melt, 10th Ward.

“Insider, tree-hugging hippie politics,” he added.

But it appears that, for now, the ban is moving forward. Evanston officials say that residents inviting trick-or-treaters will have to register either online or by calling 311, and will be sent a packet containing both an information sheet outlining the candy prohibitions and nutrition fliers to distribute to neighborhood children.

The ban will be implemented gradually, and will, for testing purposes, be limited in 2018 to constituents of the Ridgeville Park District. That gives officials a chance to iron out the kinks before a citywide rollout in 2019.

NANNY urges cities to respond only specific complaints at first, issuing only mailed warning to first time offenders. Correspondence between NANNY and city officials obtained by Evanston RoundTable suggests, however, that, “After one or two years, local police should be deployed to enforce the ban, and fines and citations provide a significant new revenue stream for your municipality. Police may even consider undercover trick-or-treaters as decoys.”

An internal Evanston Police Department email additionally revealed that all police officers under 4’9 are heretofore on call Halloween.

This is an April Fool story.