Bake sale ban could hurt school groups

By Bethany Knipp

The people behind school bake sales might have to get a little creative and find other ways to fundraise starting in the fall… at least during the school day.

New federal health and wellness guidelines will restrict foods that can be sold during the school day, Manhattan High School Principal Greg Hoyt said.

USD 383 food services director Stephanie Smith said that the USDA Smart Snacks in Schools regulations are an attempt to limit junk food available during the school day, and at the same time, limit competition with food services. It all officially starts July 1.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction. It sends a positive message that we’re selling only healthy items in the school environment,” Smith said.

The Smart Snacks standards are a part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The standards were released in summer 2013 and schools were given a year to implement them.

The restriction on high calorie goodie bake sales on school campuses would start the midnight before a school day and go until 30 minutes after it ends, Smith said. Concessions and bake sales after would not be affected.

Students and teachers in the high school’s interpersonal skills (IPS) class will be affected by the new guidelines, however.

IPS instructor Barb Crooks said her class puts on bake sales during the lunch hour and will have to find other ways to raise money for MHS programs.

“I get what they’re doing. I understand for health reasons they want to do this. It’s taken away a good way for us to raise money,” Crooks said.

The IPS class is made up of students with special needs and also senior class “mentors,” Crooks said. The students conduct bake sales during lunch sometimes because it’s an opportunity for the mentors to be part of bake sales if they’re in sports or other evening extracurricular activities.

The class sells baked goods at eight sales before spring break every year, she said.

“We’re disappointed in the bake sales because that is something the kids look forward all year to doing,” Crooks said.

With the new regulations soon to be in place, Crooks said she and other teachers will begin brainstorming for other ways to raise money.

The IPS class has raised thousands of dollars for the Christmastime Adopt-a-Family program and for various MHS groups that are looking to fundraise, including the drama department for theatre students’ trip to Scotland this summer.

Crooks said the class might look into selling other items during the school day. She said the class has sold Tupperware before.

The class also will split the nearly $2,500 it has raised for December’s Adopt-a-Family program, so the group will have money for it in 2015, Crooks said.

But Smith said that food can be sold during the school day as long as it meets certain health standards for fat, sugar, sodium and calories.

For example, bake sales can sell cookies that are 200 calories or less, Smith said.

The standards also do not affect food brought into school from a student’s home, either in packed lunches or for birthday or holiday parties.

Smith said other than restrictions on school-day bake sales, not much will change because the Kansas Department of Education has already mandated that school meals be healthy and that vending machines contain healthier snacks like reduced fat or baked chips, water and juice.

“I don’t foresee a whole lot of changes. Many of the food items we serve already meet the guidelines,” Smith said.

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