Students at Waccamaw Middle School in Pawleys Island, S.C. did something pretty cool this spring when they baked cupcakes and cookies to sell during lunchtime to raise money so six World War II veterans could go on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.
The fundraising effort was a smashing success. The students raised $2,500 in just three weeks to help the six vets visit the various national memorials that venerate their sacrifices, according to the Georgetown Times.
If the kids want to act similarly selflessly this academic year, though, they’ll be out of luck.
They can thank first lady Michelle Obama for getting them out of such do-gooderism.
The 2010 Hunger-Free Kids Act that the first lady has strongly advocated now prevents such bake sales at all schools taking the associated federal funding.
As of July, new Smart Snacks standards created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for over 30 million American school kids stringently limit the number of calories and the amount of sugar, fat and sodium in every morsel of food sold at taxpayer-funded schools — including cupcakes for fundraising.
Specifically, snacks must contain fewer than 200 calories. No more than 35 percent of the calories can come from fat or from sugar. Sodium is limited 230 milligrams. One problem, obviously, is that it’s hard to determine the nutrition content of homemade cupcakes.
“It’s definitely going to hurt fundraising,” said Tim Carnahan, principal of Waccamaw Middle School, according to the Coastal Observer.
Local school district superintendent Randy Dozier was more direct.
“It’s going to be devastating,” Dozier told the Observer.
Across South Carolina — and across America — school officials and parents are angry and confused about the new, severe regulations.
Carnahan said he is unsure whether the new federal rules limit snack sales before and after school.
“We’re kind of waiting on more information,” he explained.
Coleman Tanner, a spokeswoman for Eat Smart, Move More, a South Carolina nonprofit, said she has been responding to calls for weeks.
“One of the biggest questions we get is about fundraising,” she told the Observer. “That’s where most of the pushback comes from.”
Tanner suggested that different fundraising activities including book fairs and houseplant sales could take the place of fundraising with food.
The Hunger-Free Kids Act allows states to penalize schools that fail to comply with the Smart Snacks standards by imposing fines.
Education officials around the country have expressed frustration with the new law.
“Schools have relied on these types of sales as revenue streams for sports, cheering clubs, marching bands,” David Sevier, deputy executive director of the Tennessee Board of Education, told The Wall Street Journal recently. “We get the obesity issue, but we don’t want to jerk this out from under the kids.”