While the first lady’s campaign to impose strict nutritional guidelines in public schools across the U.S. has arguably been both a financial and culinary disaster, it is clear she is not limiting her activism to the lunchroom. Other aspects of the Michelle Obama-backed Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that recently went into effect reportedly include the ability to regulate how often school-sponsored bake sales and other fundraisers involving food may take place during a school year.
As The Tennessean reported, the Tennessee Board of Education decided to limit such activities to 30 days per year in an effort to comply with the comprehensive law. If a state declines to set a maximum number of days for what must be “infrequent” events, the act declares that schools in that state may not host any.
Board Chairman Fielding Rolston, however, did not make the concession without vocal opposition.
“If somebody wants to object to federal intrusion in what’s going on in schools,” he said, “I think this would be an ideal place to target their objections as opposed to some of the other things people are tending to complain about.”
He went on to criticize the sheer “amount of guidelines” included in the law, noting that such regulations cannot be fairly enacted in the real world.
David Sevier, the board’s deputy executive director, complained that any fundraiser – no matter how insignificant – will count toward the finite number of days such activities may be held on campus.
“That means if the Spanish club sells sausage biscuits one morning, that’s one day,” he said. “If there’s a school-wide event where all the teachers cook hamburgers for the seniors, then that’s a day. If there’s a day when the parents do pizza for the entire school, then that’s a day. If it’s 10 kids or 1,000 kids, it’s still counting as one of those events.”
As a potential end run around the regulations, students would be allowed to sell certain permitted food items deemed appropriate by Obama and her likeminded nutritional arbiters.
Sevier, however, shot back that “selling carrot sticks” will not generate any revenue for schools.
The Tennessean noted that the backlash against these requirements extends to the state’s education commissioner.
“I have a daughter in high school who’s actually experienced this,” Kevin Huffman said of the mandate. “There are quite a lot of bake sales and so on. And so, if you’re a principal, you have to basically declare Tuesday ‘Bake Sale Day’; otherwise, you’re almost certain to go over.”