Lawmakers overturn bake sale ban

by Pols and Politics

Lawmakers are lifting a ban on bake sales in public schools included in new health regulations aimed at combating childhood obesity.

The House passed an amendment attached to a mid-year spending bill yesterday that would allow local school districts to decide whether they want to allow bake sales or not.

The Senate plans to take up a similar measure today. One of the amendment’s co-sponsor, state Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, called banning bake sales “extreme.”

“It defies common sense,” said Finegold. “I’m a very healthy person, but I’m all for making sure we have healthy kids and lunches, but I think this is too extreme.”

State Rep. Cory Atkins, D-Concord, said the ban would affect after school and sports programs, as well as fundraisers schools organize to raise money for various extracurricular programming.

“I spent a lot of time looking at issues that help create obesity,” said Atkins. “I don’t think this is one of them. I think to take this tool from the local PTAs it is going too far. We will be hearing from parent groups all over the commonwealth if we don’t rectify this situation.”

The bake sale ban was included in nutrition standards adopted by the Public Health Council last year.
Under the new rules, whole milk, soda and deep-fried potato chips would be out. Baked potato chips would be in, along with white or chocolate milk with 1 percent fat. Schools would have to offer fruit juices with no natural or artificial sweeteners, low-fat salad dressing, and sugar-free animal crackers, for example.

The nutrition standards take effect at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year and are believed to be some of the strictest in the country. The Departments of Public Health has said the new restrictions are designed to fight a growing obesity epidemic affecting a third of the state’s 1.5 million students.

Krissy Polimeno, chairman Tewksbury school Committee, said she contacted Finegold’s office and asked him to overturn the ban earlier this week.

“Bake sales have been a great fundraiser for decades,” said Polimeno. “They were a fundraiser when I was in school. We recognize the need to find solutions to childhood obesity, but the bill is too far reaching. It doesn’t target the appropriate population.”

Chris Camire

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