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Utah PTA working to make Halloween healthier

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The way Utah PTA Health Commissioner Liz Zentner sees it, kids will get enough sweets while trick-or-treating. That's not to say treats have to be completely avoided at parties.

Parents want to find something cute to take to a party ... the only place the cute stuff is, is in the bakery.

–- Liz Zentner

"Don't eliminate the fun cupcake or cookie, just don't make the whole menu junk," she says.

PTA leaders know the candy is part of the fun of Halloween, but they hope as parents and room mothers plan a holiday class parties they'll plan beyond junk.

"They'll (kids will) junk-out plenty of on Halloween night, and there may be other parties; but the school, I think, needs to teach children good health habits," Zentner says.

The real problem, she says, is that parents couldn't find healthy Halloween snacks in many grocery chains even if they looked high and low.

"Parents, when they want to find something cute to take to a party and they go to a store, the only place the cute stuff is, is in the bakery," she says.

Zentner has had discussions with chains like Whole Foods, Smiths and Associated Foods. She says the people she has talked to have been very receptive.

"I've been working with them at the corporate level and they're getting ready (buying things) for Easter right now. So it may take another year, maybe next Halloween, before we really get them all participating," she says.

Some stores already have some healthy items ready to serve now. Zentner says Smiths has decided to sell "Scarrots," which are mini carrots with a Halloween theme.

Whole Foods has items like "Mummy Crunchers," which are celery stalks with either peanut butter wrapped in coconut or cream cheese wrapped in ham. They also have "Apple Snaggles," which are apple wedges with almonds shaped like snaggleteeth.

If you're not lactose intolerant, you may want to try the "Monster Fingers."

"[They're] strips of cheese with a sunflower seed, or some kind of seed on the end to look like a fingernail," Zentner says.

When Halloween is over, she hopes stores will make more healthy treats for other holidays like Christmas and Valentine's Day.


Story compiled with contributions from Paul Nelson and Nadine Wimmer.

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