NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

When Cupcakes Are the Enemy of School Kids

May 21, 2012

With so many overweight kids, it's understandable why schools want to discourage high-calorie snacks.  This has led to a series of regulations in states like California, Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Texas, each of which, for example, limits the ability of students to have bake sales for foods deemed non-nutritious, says BusinessWeek.

But the regulations, which will likely be supplemented by a national standard in the near future, are becoming more extreme as time passes.

  • Maryland's Montgomery County has prohibited bake sales entirely.
  • Massachusetts will not only limit the bake sale capability of students -- it will also forbid students from handing out sweets such as cupcakes on their birthdays.
  • New York City public schools prohibit students from selling unapproved home-baked goods, but still allow complying processed foods to be distributed (such as Kellogg's Pop Tarts).

The federal government is expected to weigh in with its own rules soon.  The Agriculture Department says the new rules will allow infrequent bake sales during school hours, yet it fails to specify exactly what that means.

School officials and active parents are concerned about the issuance of federal rules and their overarching ability to dictate local rules.  Some, for instance, are concerned that federal laws will limit concession stands at school sporting events -- a crucial source of revenue for students' recreational activities.

Source: Stephanie Armour, "When Cupcakes Are the Enemy of Schoolkids," BusinessWeek, May 3, 2012.

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