Nanny State Goes Wild with Bake Sale Ban

The Wall Street Journal bids farewell to a staple of school life since time immemorial: the bake sale.  Those Who Know What’s Good For Us have decided bake sales are out of the question for our roly-poly student bodies, you see.

Campus bake sales–a mainstay of school fundraisers–are going on a diet. A federal law that aims to curb childhood obesity means that, in dozens of states, bake sales must adhere to nutrition requirements that could replace cupcakes and brownies with fruit cups and granola bars.

Jeff Ellsworth, principal of the kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Chapman, Neb., isn’t quite sure how to break the news to the kids. “The chocolate bars are a big seller,” said Mr. Ellsworth.

The restrictions that took effect in July stem from the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by first lady Michelle Obama and her “Let’s Move!” campaign. The law overhauled nutrition standards affecting more than 30 million children. Among the changes: fatty french fries were out, while baked sweet potato fries were deemed to be fine.

What powers does the Constitution vest in the First Lady, again?  I guess we’re well past asking such churlish questions.  I can imagine no better symbol for humorless dead-end collectivism than a bunch of forlorn kids trudging up to adults and begging them to buy a granola bar to support their sports team.

Doubtless there are bureaucracies eagerly staffing up to enforce the new regulations, which can impose fines on schools that don’t comply with the new “calorie, sodium, fat and other requirements.”  Ah, compliance: the favorite word of the modern “liberal.”

“For some districts, this will be a huge change,” said Julia Bauscher, president of the School Nutrition Association and director of school and community nutrition services at Jefferson County Public School in Louisville, Ky. “There’s a lot of fear among school food directors that we will have to be the food police.”

There’s the second-favorite word of the modern liberal: fear.  Things are much easier for the Republic of Paperwork if everyone’s so afraid of non-compliance that they refrain from testing the bureaucracy.  “Do as your told” is an easier slogan to impose when everyone is afraid to do anything they have not explicitly been told to do.  For example:

In advance of the law, some schools had already banned students from a near-sacred activity: setting up tables to sell boxes of Girl Scout cookies during the day. There are also those that have replaced food-centric fundraisers with calorie-free events such as wrapping-paper sales, pie-throwing events and bowl-a-thons. Others have prohibited homemade fare in favor of processed items where the nutritional information is calculated and displayed.

At least 12 states have also already adopted limits on bake-sale foods on their own–providing a taste of what’s to come for hundreds of schools nationwide.

“We used to have a carnival with a cake walk, now we do a book walk,” said Adam Drummond, principal of Lincoln Elementary School in Huntington, Ind. “The students get to pick a book.”

I am second to no one in my love for books, but good Lord, that’s pathetic.  

Whatever one thinks of the current mania for healthier food in school cafeterias, occasional bake sales are not going to spark any obesity epidemics.  I guess the idea is to prevent kids from getting any incorrect ideas about verboten treats sold with the imprimatur of the school authorities, even if it only happens once in a while.  Perhaps the kids will also learn some… useful lessons about compliance and control.

Davis High School in Kaysville, Utah, was fined more than $15,000 during the 2012-2013 school year for selling certain snacks and carbonated beverages near the lunch area while meals were served, which isn’t allowed under federal requirements. The Utah Department of Education conducted on-site visits and found the infractions. The fine was reduced to $1,297, according to Christopher Williams, a district spokesman.

Said Tennessee’s Mr. Sevier: “It’s not like we’re going to have a brigade of black helicopters coming in to check.”

So schools get fined right down the old pie-hole if they dare to sell anything that doesn’t measure up to standards imposed by the Granola Division of the Department of Compliance… but it’s nothing to worry about, as long as the site visits aren’t conducted by black helicopters?  Goodbye, bake sales.  You’ll be a fond memory from a stronger age.