The child nutrition bill President Obama is expected to sign is supposed to make school breakfasts, lunches, and after-school meal programs nutritious for all.
And to make sure no one can cheat, the same nutritional standards will apply to the content of vending machines, a la carte lunch lines, and school stores.
But will it also mean the shutdown of bake sales in local public schools?
Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, says no; USDA will not become the fund raising police. In a letter to Rep. George Miller, D-CA, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, Vilsack wrote “USDA agrees with and respects the intent of Congress to permit exemptions for school approved fundraisers–including bake sales or other occasional or infrequent fundraisers.”
Yet one national wire service had no trouble finding local school district and state education departments already working on implementing bans on bake sale items, and an activist wanting all “junk food” off campuses.
The child nutrition bill, supported as much or more in First Lady’s Michelle Obama’s East Wing of the White House as in the West Wing, where the President’s Oval Office is located, is the first reform of the school lunch program in a generation.
Within one year after enactment, it requires the Secretary of Agriculture to adopt nutritional standards for all food served in schools during regular hours.
That’s caused some to predict it’s the end for bake sales, be they for the band trip or the Cub Scouts, although the standards haven’t even been proposed yet.
“Parents and local communities are outraged at the federal government’s usurpation of power,” says Orit Sklar, national spokeswoman of the consumer coalition My Food. My Choice!. “It represents everything the American people have been rejecting from Washington.”
The New York-based My Food, My Choice was originally formed to oppose regulation of chefs’ use of salt in restaurant food. Now with 13,000 fans on Face Book, the group has declared December as “National Bake Sale Month.”
The knot-hole exemption that might keep bake sales alive is found in Section 208 of the bill, which says there are “special exemptions for school-sponsored fundraisers (other than fundraising through vending machines, school stores, snack bars, a la carte sales, and any other exclusions determined by the Secretary), if the fundraisers are approved by the school and are infrequent within the school.”