By: Pete Kasperowicz
Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) proposed legislation Tuesday that would strike down a federal rule that puts limits on the sale of baked goods, sweets and other non-healthy foods during the school day to raise money for sports, band and other activities.
“Turn off the ovens, the school bake sales are over,” Poe declared on the House floor Tuesday. Poe said bake sales had been used by parents, teachers and students to help fund a range of activities.
“But now, the almighty federal government has cooked up new rules controlling public school bake sales,” he said. “No more cupcakes, oatmeal raisin cookies, popcorn or pizza can be sold for playground equipment or student trips.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture put out a rule in 2013 to implement language in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that deals with nutrition standards in school. According to the rule, nutrition standards don’t apply to food sold during non-school hours, but apply to food sold during the day.
That means they apply to day-time bake sales and fundraisers that have traditionally relied on sales of candy and other sweets. The rule allows some exceptions to the nutrition guidelines, and lets states determine how often to approve those exceptions.
In a recent blog post, USDA indicated that because of these exceptions, the rule has not outlawed bake sales at all.
But the rule and the law clearly impose some restrictions, and people across the country have complained about the sudden requirement to sell healthy snacks.
“The Washington regulators, many of whom have their kids go to private school that are not covered by the new rules, say kale chips and quinoa are to replace snow cones and Valentine’s candy,” Poe said. “Isn’t that lovely?”
Poe’s bill would prohibit any federal funds from being used to implement USDA’s rule, which would free schools from all nutrition guidance under the rule.