There have been a lot of questions regarding the content of
the “The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act” and what is in the bill and
what is not in the bill.
Below is a link to a story that may be useful to you.
I have also attached a letter from Secretary Vilsack to Congressman George
Office of Communications
United States Department of Agriculture
(202) 720-6959 (office)
(202) 579-2340 (cell)
Monday, December 06, 2010
On dousing inflammatory rhetoric about the
Obama administration as Nanny State Food Police...
After the House passed landmark
child nutrition legislation last week, the AP published a
story that fanned the flames of fear swirling in the culture that the
Obama administration intends to be one large, coordinated battalion of Food
Police. The story maintained that once President Obama signs the
legislation into law, bake sales and sweets-based fundraisers could be banned
from schools. Thanks to AP's wide syndication, the story appeared in countless
news outlets with headlines that
ranged from "Hold The Brownies! Bill Could Limit Bake
Sales" to "Stop The Chocolate Chip Cookies! Hold The Pizza!
Bill Could Quash School Bake Sales," and is still getting reprinted
today. But Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has made it clear that
banning bake sales is not the intent of USDA, which will set school nutrition
guidelines under the new legislation. (Above: Vilsack at a Let's Move!
Section 208 of S. 3307, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, grants USDA the
ability to set nutrition standards for all foods served at schools during
the school day, including in vending machines, snack bars, and other
"similar venues." However, in the AP story, opponents are quoted
discussing the "ban" as if it is a guarantee.
"Limiting bake sales is so narrow-minded," parent Laura Shortway told
AP. "This could be a real train wreck for school districts," Lucy
Gettman of the National School Boards Association said.
"Public health groups pushed for the language on fundraisers," AP
notes. Sarah Palin, who recently brought
cookies to Plumstead Christian Academy in Pennsylvania, to protest
government regulation of school foods, is mentioned. Margo Wootan, a
public health advocate who is adamantly against selling sweets on school
grounds, is quoted in favor of the ban. Wootan's organization, Center For
Science in The Public Interest, has done things like file a class-action lawsuit
against Denny's resturants for their menu contents.
The AP story does note that Sec. Vilsack sent a letter to Rep.
George Miller (D-CA), Chair of the House Education & Labor Committee,
in which Vilsack said that he's not in favor of a ban on fundraisers,
but then the story qualifies this by warning that the USDA has yet to set the
new standards. The story is still causing a wildfire of outrage across the internet
and commercial media.
In his letter, Vilsack noted that there will be exemptions for school
fundraisers, and deems this in keeping with the overall Congressional
intent to create healthier school food.
Sec. Vilsack actually wrote in his letter:
The Congressional intent is clear that the purpose of Section 208 in the
Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act is to upgrade the nutritional quality of certain
foods sold in schools outside of the school meal programs. As such, USDA would
use this authority to propose nutrition standards through the regulatory
process, which will allow for public comment by school administrators and all
other interested parties.
USDA agrees with and respects the intent of Congress to permit exemptions for school approved
fundraisers -- including bake sales or other occasional or infrequent
With respect to concessions at sporting events, depending on the particular
school schedule, the majority of these events would likely fall outside of the
school day, and thus beyond the authority granted by the bill. Again, USDA has no intention of
going further than the Congressional directive on this issue.
Once the legislation is signed into law by President Obama, USDA has a year to
write the new nutritional guidelines for school foods. There's no looming,
pandemic ban on sweets being sold at fundraisers, in part because that public
comment period will likely generate loads of fodder for the USDA to chew on.
The USDA will announce the public comment period shortly, according to a
summary of the new legislation is
The new legislation is a centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's
Let's Move! campaign. But the campaign, by the way, has no program of banning
sweets, either, although it has caused an
ongoing outcry from right-wing commentators/entertainers, too. The
First Lady recently gave
some nice pushback to the critics, with a focus on complainer in chief
Sarah Palin. As if to reinforce the point that treats are perfectly fine--and
perfectly American--Mrs. Obama publicly consumed cookies last week as she unveiled
the 2010 White House Holiday Decorations. And the White House put out
the yummy recipe for the Holiday
Gingerbread Cookies, too. (Mrs. Obama in action at the
Cookies, cupcakes, and brownies are a traditional part of American life, and
there's no Food Police campaign by the Obama administration to "ban"
these, despite all the lather in right wing media. The fundamental Obama idea
is basic: Citizens should consume treats in moderation, so everyone can live
long enough--free of diet-related disease--to see their grandchildren enjoy
these, too. It's a basic idea, but apparently revolutionary, in a culture that
has a large population that has started to equate the right to bear full-fat
cookies with the right to bear arms.
*Top photo by EGK/Obama Foodorama; second by Helena Bottemiller for Obama
Eddie Gehman Kohan
Secretary Tom Vilsack, Bake Sales,
lady Michelle Obama, Healthy
Hunger Free Kids Act 2010, President