School Food Regs Hit Daytime Bake Sales

Sunday, 03 Aug 2014 06:29 PM

By Greg Richter

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Tougher nutritional requirements will be hitting a school tradition this fall: daytime bake sales and fundraisers.

According to The Wall Street Journal, most schools taking part in federal school meals programs will have to adhere to more stringent rules this fall.

The 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was pushed by first lady Michelle Obama and her "Let's Move!" effort, and already has affected school lunch meals and items sold in vending machines.

Now, sales of cookie dough, candy bars, and the like will fall under similar guidelines, meaning they likely can't be sold during school hours.

"The chocolate bars are a big seller," Jeff Ellsworth, a Chapman, Nebraska principal told the Journal.

The rules also have the unintended consequence of preventing homemade items from being sold because their nutritional information isn't labeled. Instead, items that are sold now are even more likely to be processed foods.

The federal law allows states to make their own exemptions, but 32 states, ranging from the likes of Alabama to California, have opted to stick with the federal guidelines.

"For some districts, this will be a huge change," Julia Bauscher, president of the School Nutrition Association, told the Journal. "There's a lot of fear among school food directors that we will have to be the food police."

Tennessee is allowing 30 days of exemptions during the school year. Some states have opted to replace events such as cake walks with "book walks."

Texas previously had three exemptions per year, but has dropped them for the coming school session. Some get around the law by simply setting up as soon as the final bell of the day rings.

Georgia also passed 30 days worth of exemptions, The National Journal reported, citing a need for fundraising opportunities for student groups. A Georgia Department of Education press released called the guidelines on fundraisers "an absolute overreach of the federal government."

States have the authority to fine schools that don't comply, but David Sevier of the Tennessee Board of Education told The Wall Street Journal there won't be "a brigade of black helicopters coming in to check."

Sevier told The Daily Caller last month the rules were "ridiculous" because they count each event as one day.

"That means if the Spanish club sells sausage biscuits one morning, that’s one day," Sevier told the Caller. "If there’s a schoolwide event where all the teachers cook hamburgers for the seniors, then that’s a day. If there’s a day when the parents do pizza for the entire school, that’s a day."

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