July 25 2014
Vicki E. Alger
Less than one month after new federal food regulations took effect, schools in 12 states are working their way around them. As the National Journal reports:
Twelve states have established their own policies to circumvent regulations in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 [here] that apply to "competitive snacks," or any foods and beverages sold to students on school grounds that are not part of the Agriculture Department's school meal programs, according to the National Association of State Boards of Education. Competitive snacks appear in vending machines, school stores, and food and beverages, including items sold at bake sales.
Georgia is the latest state to announce an exemption to the federal regulations, which became effective July 1 for thousands of public schools across the country. Its rule would allow 30 food-related fundraising days per school year that wouldn't meet the new healthy nutritional standards. …
Tennessee also plans to allow 30 food-fundraising days that don't comply with federal standards per school year. Idaho will allow 10, while Illinois is slowly weaning schools off their bake sales, hoping to shrink them from an annual 36 days to nine days in the next three years. Florida and Alabama are considering creating their own exemption policies.
Under the new regulations, there are some exemptions for school fundraisers (p. 7), including allowing state education agencies to define what constitutes “a limited number" of school fundraisers (p. 39).
However, it’s worth considering why the USDA has authority over foods offered outside of its school lunch and breakfast programs (p. 8), and why it has the power to ban fundraiser foods that compete with its meals offered during breakfast or lunch time (p. 41).
Ensuring children have nutritious meals and healthy food is a goal we can all share, but there are better ways to accomplish it—without burying parents or schools in red tape. Parents who are truly struggling to make ends meet should be given school meal vouchers so they can purchase the healthy food they think is best for their children to take to school. To ease the burden on all families, taxes need to be reduced overall so they can direct more of their budgets to preparing meals they think are best for their children instead of those funds going to support an ever-expanding bureaucracy bound and determined to micromanage every morsel of food other people’s children ingest.