Why Schools are Banning Bake Sales and Birthday Cakes

Bake sales used to be the highlight of any school function, with mountains of cupcakes and muffins, and bundt cakes galore, tempting the taste buds of kindergartners and teachers alike. But that may be changing soon, as schools are beginning to make bake sale restrictions in light of America’s ever-expanding waistline.

The public school system in Maryland’s Montgomery County, for instance, is no longer allowing its districts to hold bake sales, even if the fundraisers are for a good cause. This is because selling sweets has been outlawed during the school day, and the new ban is taken rather seriously, according to Marla Caplon of Montgomery County’s food and nutrition services, who says officials ‘make the rounds’ daily to ensure no one’s breaking the rules.

“If a bake sale is going on, it’s reported to administration and it’s taken care of,” she says. “You can’t sell Girl Scout cookies, candy, cakes, any of that stuff.”

In an effort to curb the number of overweight kids in our country, schools in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Texas have regulations on bake sales, too, limiting them to nutritious food only. And Massachusetts will also follow suit, reportedly joining the sans-sweets group with a rule for public schools prohibiting fundraisers that sell non-nutritious foods. Students there will also no longer be able allowed to hand out sugary treats or anything deemed ‘unhealthy’ to other students on their birthdays.

What a bummer.

Elizabeth Puccini, a Manhattan filmmaker whose son is in the first grade, finds their district’s rule unfair, as the guidelines restrict some home-baked goods while allowing other pre-packaged goods, such as Pop Tarts, because they’re considered ‘wholesome.’

“You know what’s allowed? Junk food,” she says. “It’s a ridiculous regulation and should be overturned.”

Apparently, the bake sale debacle has turned into such an big issue the the federal government is expected to step in this year with a set of national school nutritional strands for food sold outside cafeterias. However, many are challenging how effective this may be since the Agriculture Department has reportedly stated the new rules will allow ‘infrequent bake sales during school hours,’ but has yet to define what exactly ‘infrequent’ means.

Students at one high school in Boulder, Colorado, tried to skate around the rules by having a ‘napkin sale,’ as an alternative fundraiser. But when the napkins were discovered to contain a cookie tucked inside, school officials quickly put an end to that.

Michelle Vicari,  who commented on the original report from Bloomberg Businessweek, said, “So, it’s not OK to pass out a cupcake to celebrate a birthday 20 or so times a year but every day pizza, chocolate milk and french fries can be served at the cafeteria?”

She makes a good point. And besides the contradicting nutrition policies, there are other concerns, too, such as whether or not schools will be able to sustain extracurricular activities and organizations without the money raised from bake sales.

Norm Fay, who’s heavily involved in his school district in Massachusetts, reported that their concession sales raise about $24,000 a year, which goes toward purchasing team jackets and even student scholarships. ‘Who’s going to line up to buy apples and granola, when they can go right down the street and buy Dunkin’ Donuts?”

Whatever side of the bake sale fight you may fall on, it’s at least encouraging to know that the health of our children is of high concern in our country, as it should be. Even if the means to go about getting our kid’s healthier doesn’t quite make sense, at least we’re making progress.

Also Read:

Healthy School Lunch Guidelines on the Way

Sugar as Addictive as Cocaine and Heroine?

Setting Sugar Straight: What Matters Most for Weight Management?


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