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August 5 2014

Banning Bake Sales Won't Solve Childhood Obesity

Julie Gunlock

I remember way, way, wayyyyyy back (sniff) that as a child I sold cheap candy bars for school fundraisers. I remember my mom buying me a brownie or a cookie or some sort of treat at my school bake sales. And, I recall in high school being asked to help out and bake for a few other school-sponsored bake sales.

Oh how things have changed. Today, I can cross baking for the school bake sale off my to-do list because thanks to new Obama administration regulations school-sponsored bake sales are a big, fat, obesity-causing NO NO!

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal covers the issue:

The restrictions that took effect in July stem from the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by first lady Michelle Obama and her "Let's Move!" campaign. The law overhauled nutrition standards affecting more than 30 million children. Among the changes: fatty french fries were out, while baked sweet potato fries were deemed to be fine.

The law also required the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set standards for all food and beverages sold during the school day, which includes vending machines, snack carts and daytime fundraisers. It allowed for "infrequent" fundraisers, and states were allowed to decide how many bake sales they would have that didn't meet nutrition standards.

Without state-approved exemptions, any treats sold would have to meet calorie, sodium, fat and other requirements. The law permits states to fine schools that don't comply.

Several states have already passed exemptions and that’s great but the idiocy of this policy should still be examined. We know that the Obama Administration (and a compliant Congress) has a habit of passing legislation before reading it, so is this what happened when the Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 passed and banned school bake sales? Did someone simply miss that this provision was included in the bill?  Because what other explanation can there be for banning these fundraisers which go to pay for school trips and extracurricular activities--you know those things that ostensibly keep kids off the couch and their hands out of the Doritos bag...

Do the Obamas and the members of Congress who were pushing for this bill’s passage not understand how fundraisers work? Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Obama could examine their own prolific fundraising habits for a lesson. 

Let’s put this in campaign terms a politicians might understand: I believe rich people (moms at school pick-up) are told they will get five minutes and a photo opportunity with Mr. Obama (a cookie, browning, rice crispy treat, muffin, pastry, slice of pie, piece of cake, or slice of banana bread) in exchange for a hefty contribution (a dollar or two). These rich campaign contributors (moms) are getting access to the President (a much-deserved sweet treat) for their considerable contribution (spare change). But, in order for these captains of industry and Hollywood nitwits (exhausted moms who probably forgot to eat lunch) to hand over their contributions (quarters mined from the floor of the minivan), they need to be given time with the president (something that tastes good). So, just like lobbyists in Washington and other wealthy contributors to campaigns, in order for me to hand over money, I want to get something in return. I don't want a fruit cup, an apple or a dry granola bar—the campaign contribution equivalent of taking a picture with the office intern. I want chocolate. Got it? CHOCOLATE.

And since school bake sales have been around for decades, do Washington bureaucrats behind this ban really think these fundraisers are the cause of obesity? Of course not. This is just another way in which the Obama administration can tell Americans how to eat and blame common traditions for a health issue that is far too complex for simplistic solutions like banning school bake sales.

Look, if a school decides—at the local level—that they only want to sell kale chips, celery sticks and other Food Babe-approved foods for their school fundraisers, that’s fine. Good luck raising money on rabbit food.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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