As NTUF continues to improve our new website and The Taxpayer's Tab, Foundation staff brings you the latest BillTally research and commentary on the proposed spending. In the third of our supplemental posts, we scored H.R. 5417, the BAKE SALE Act of 2014.
The Bill: H.R. 5417, the Bringing Awareness and Knowledge to Exempt Schools Against Legislative Encroachment (BAKE SALE) Act of 2014
Cost Per Year: “No Cost” – Regulation
As students head back to school each fall to start a new academic year, parents and neighbors have come to expect plenty of school-sponsored fundraisers, which offer everything from cookies to popcorn to chocolate bars to raise money for students’ activities. This year, however, federal law could change the sort of foods you can buy from local schools.
Over the summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture began enforcing provisions of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (passed in 2010 with the support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative), which restricts sales of certain foods on school grounds depending on their nutritional content. The law was intended to improve the dietary quality of foods sold to kids who rely on programs like the School Breakfast Program, the National School Lunch Program, the Afterschool Snack Program, and the Afterschool Meal Program by setting minimum requirements for calorie, fat, and sodium content. It offers states flexibility to enforce standards above those laid out in the law, and gives them authority to fine schools that did not adhere to those standards. States are also allowed to offer exemptions to the standards for certain types of events on a limited number of occasions per year, and the guidelines do not apply to events held after school hours (including sporting events).
Those exemptions aren’t enough in the eyes of some school administrators, especially since the law can be more difficult to interpret in the case of homemade items. Brownies and cupcakes found at bake sales do not typically come with any verified nutritional labeling, and if sold during the day, can warrant a fine from the state for violating the guidelines. Some schools have decided to avoid any debate entirely by doing away with food-centric fundraisers, like Girl Scout Cookie sales, during the day.
The law’s restrictions have also caused backlash from some politicians in Washington, D.C., including Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX), who introduced the BAKE SALE Act in response. H.R. 5417 would prohibit the nutritional requirements in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act from applying to any fundraiser held at any time on school grounds. “Bake sales are as American as apple pie. For years, students and parents have used the bake sale as a way to raise funds for school trips, athletic competitions, new uniforms and other activities,” said Congressman Poe in a press release. “Not only is this rule an example of gross government overreach, it is also denying public schools thousands of dollars for extra-curricular activities.”
The Bottom Line: H.R. 5417 would exempt foods sold during school fundraisers (typically sugary treats) from nutritional requirements that otherwise apply.