The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act went into effect July 1, setting new, updated standards for calories, fats, sugar, and sodium for “competitive foods” sold at schools.
“Competitive foods” do not wear uniforms and engage in sports; rather that’s government-speak for vending machine snacks and bake-sale goodies. This regulation sets standards for calories, fats, sugar, and sodium, and is attempting to push foods with whole grains, lowfat dairy, fruits, vegetables, or protein foods as their main ingredient. It does require that food and beverage items sold during the school day achieve certain standards, but also allows for special exemptions for the purpose of conducting infrequent school-sponsored fundraisers. What the law does not do is define “infrequent,” leaving that to the states to set their own limits.
As a couple illustrations, Georgia allows 30 sales per school year, and according to the National Journal, Idaho has declared ten to be its limit, while the state of Illinois is dropping its existing 36 down to nine. So, let’s make sure we’re clear on this. “Thirty sales per year,” does not mean through out the entire state, rather, it is 30 per school. Since Georgia has 2,500 public schools, the law therefore limits bake sales to 75,000 per year; not necessarily my definition of “infrequent,” but it will sure keep a whole lot of elementary school moms and dads up late baking cupcakes for a long, long time.
Nonetheless, some folks enjoy the feeling of knotted knickers so an issue of the Wall Street Journal displays the headline: “Put Down the Cupcake: New Ban Hits School Bake Sales.” Not to be out-outraged, one sensationalized hyper-partisan website screams, “Michelle Obama’s Meddling In School Lunches Now Causes Bake Sale Bans.” To add insult to the supposed injury, the photograph at the top of the webpage shows a candid unflattering shot of Mrs. Obama eating what appears to be a sugary treat.
So, here’s where I come down on this (because I know you won’t eat another goodie until you find out).
First, can everybody please just chill the heck out? For goodness sakes, it’s like we’re all walking around with burrs in our boxers and someone’s forcing us to sit down hard. Not everything requires us to be in high dudgeon. Let’s just mellow, okay?
Because the more urgent issue is why would we not want our children to eat better?
I don’t mean to tout the “when I was a kid” screed, but when I was a kid, my graduation class had 1107 kids in it. (Yes, you read that right; I was in L.A.) Out of those more than one thousand students, I was the second-fattest kid. Aside from me, there were maybe three or four others who might be called “obese,” translating into less than one percent branded as such. According to 2013 statistics, the U.S. average has now expanded to 31.3 percent; with some states nudging 40. That means my graduating class, if moved to today, would mean I would have been in the company of 345 other chubby souls.
I understand the need for personal responsibility and freedom of choice; I wish we took more of the first and had more of the latter.
Should the new law have outright banned sugar or fat, I’d probably feel the same way I felt about the soda ban in New York not too long ago (didn’t agree with it). But, if the price for a healthier society is we have to change from bake sales to book sales once in a while, count me in. This is one time where we certainly don’t our children to have their cake and eat it too.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a nationally known weight loss expert for baby boomers and the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com Get his free ebook of motivational quotations and one year of his highly-popular Monday Motivational Memos at no charge by visiting his website. He is also available for coaching and speaking.