If you want to buy something to eat while you’re visiting the Wilmette Park District’s Centennial Pool, you can visit Centennial’s concession stand.
If you want to bring a snack from home — for any reason, including health, religious or allergy-based concerns — you’ll be out of luck, because district policy forbids outside food on premises.
However, that policy may be revamped, Park District Director Steve Wilson said last week; one possible option might be to craft regulations similar to ones governing food use at the Gillson swimming beach, he said.
Wilson was responding to complaints about the policy from Wilmette resident Marci Kulbak. Kulbak, whose concerns were aired in a letter to the Wilmette Life, said Friday she is pleased that changes might be considered.
“I think that’s terrific,” she said. “If that changes, that’s great, because it’s time to rethink and re-evaluate.”
Wilson said the policy against allowing outside food in the pool area has been in place for many years. The ban is partly to make the concession attractive (an outside commercial contractor runs the Centennial stand), but health concerns also limit all food to areas away from the pool itself, he said.
Patrons haven’t contacted the district directly to complain about the policy, “but obviously we’ve noticed the letter. We’ve already had very informal conversations with the staff today.”
He said the district does not allow Gillson beach patrons to bring food with them onto the beach, but does allow them to eat what they bring at tables away from the beach, “and perhaps there is a way to approach (the pool) in some similar fashion.”
Kulbak said she first became aware of the policy against outside food several years ago, when she was told she couldn’t feed her young son an apple she had brought from home. She did not contact district officials, she added, but she spends many days a week at the pool every summer, “and every year I would see that rule. It just annoyed me more and more.”
Kulbak said she is concerned about pressures to eat what she called junk food and prepared snacks, and wants her son to eat healthy alternatives.
“Children are constantly around junk food. And in these days when we have a rising tide of obesity in children, there should be an alternative,” Kulbak said.
Parents also can have more serious health concerns about the food available at the pool if their children have specific food allergies, Kulbak said. Religious dietary restrictions could also prevent parents from using the concession stand.
“We have friends who keep kosher and they can’t bring food in for their kids,” she said.
Kulbak’s concerns are valid, Wilson said.
“We agree. People have different restrictions, diet-wise, and we want them to be able to eat what they want to eat. We’re going to look at the situation. I don’t know how quickly we will come up with something, but we are definitely looking at it.”