Back to School: Goodbye cupcakes, hello fruit cups

Updated: 08/06/2014 6:07 PM
Created: 08/06/2014 12:16 PM WHEC.com
By: Berkeley Brean

Did you know about this? A federal law aimed at reducing childhood obesity has effectively banned bake sales at our local schools this year.

The federal law is called the "Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act" and was passed in 2010. The law puts limits on the amount of calories, sodium and fat in food sold in public schools. 

The list of snacks includes certain cookies, candies, donuts, chocolate bars and regular soda. Instead, kids can get peanuts, light popcorn, low-fat tortilla chips, granola bars, fruit cups and no calorie flavored water.

Laurel Heiden, Greece Central School District, said, “The goal is to have kids making healthier choices for a sustainable healthy life style.”

The biggest impact will be on groups selling snacks to raise money. The ban on the snacks is only during school hours, so the fundraisers can still happen, just differently.

Heiden said, “So, for example, if you're doing a Niagara Chocolate fundraiser, you can still do that, you just can't distribute it to the student at school. You would have to wait until after school hours to do the pickup on those materials.”

According to an article on the ban in the Wall Street Journal, child obesity has quadrupled in the last 30 years. Two years ago, 18 percent of children age six to 11 were obese. That is up from seven percent since 1980. 

Click here to see the chart of the banned snacks and good snacks. Click here to read the Wall Street Journal story on the issue. 

It is up to the individual schools to enforce this, although the schools are anticipating spot checks from the federal government. 

Statement from New York State Department of Education

New York State will not be granting any exemptions. All fundraising activities that occur during the school day must comply to the new nutritional standards. SED is encouraging schools to offer non-food fundraiser activities (car washes, bicycles, gift cards etc). 

Section 10 of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966, 42 USC 1779, as amended by the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), requires that all food sold outside of the school meals programs on the school grounds and at any time during the school day must meet specific nutritional requirements set forth in the final rule- "National School Lunch Programs and School Breakfast Program:Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in School, a.k.a. - the "Smart Snacks" rule. 

The standards apply to all foods and beverages sold to students on school grounds during the school day. 

The rule allows the State agency to establish special exemptions for school-sponsored fundraisers to sell foods that do not meet the standards. However, the State agency is required to establish the frequency of exemptions and must have a monitoring process in place to ensure that all schools are complying to the exemption requirements. 

New York State has over 6,000 school buildings. We determined that it would be difficult to establish a consistent process to establish, monitor and track the frequency of exempt fundraisers for each building. 

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