. New Rules Threaten School Bake Sales
Nutrition requirements championed by Michelle Obama could ban many of the bake sales on which schools have traditionally relied to raise funds.
The rules that took effect in July come from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act promoted by the first lady and her “Let’s Move!” campaign to combat childhood obesity, announced in February 2010.
The law required the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set standards for all food and beverages sold during the school day, including daytime fundraisers, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Obama administration said it has provided states with flexibility in adhering to the rules, which cover schools that participate in the federal school meals program. States are allowed to decide how many bake sales they will sponsor that don’t meet the nutrition standards set forth by the law.
But so far, 32 states have decided not to hold those exempted sales, so any food items sold will have to meet calorie, sodium, fat and other requirements. No more than 35 percent of the calories in an item can come from total fat. Schools that violate the rules can be fined.
“Schools have relied on these types of sales as revenue streams for sports, cheering clubs, marching bands,” David Sevier, deputy executive director of the Tennessee Board of Education, told the Journal.
“We get the obesity issue, but we don’t want to jerk this out from under the kids.”
Some schools have already banned students from selling Girl Scout cookies during the day, and others have replaced bake sales with sales of wrapping paper and other nonfood items or events.
Among the items banned for consumption in schools by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act are potato chips with excess salt, granola bars with excess sugar, fortified sports drinks, sodas with sugar or caffeine, gum, and candy.
Childhood obesity has more than quadrupled in the past 30 years. Today nearly one in five children in the United States between ages 6 and 19 are obese, and one in three are overweight.
Michelle Obama’s campaign has the stated goal of “solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight.”