The Smart Snack Law, which took effect July 1, requires any school that takes part in the federal school lunch program to ensure all foods, even those sold in vending machines or at fundraisers, be “whole grain rich,” or consist primarily of a fruit, vegetable, dairy product or be protein rich. And yes, they also must be very low in calories.
There are no restrictions on water. Yet.
The new law applies even to snacks consumed on campus by high school upperclassmen — students old enough, and mature enough, to legally drive a motor vehicle, marry and, in some cases, serve in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marines.
“I think when you’re talking about high school and you’re talking about sales that happen outside of the cafeteria … with 16, 17, 18, 19-year-old kids, they’re perfectly capable of making these kinds of decisions for themselves,” Marietta High School Principal Leigh Colburn says.
The well-intentioned but poorly conceived new law also puts a severe crimp on school fundraising activities by stipulating foods sold during school hours as part of fundraisers (such as the popular sale of Chick-fil-A biscuits in many local schools) must adhere to the new regulations.
“I mean, let’s face it: at these fundraisers, people aren’t going to be selling broccoli bars. These people aren’t going to want to buy something else,” Marietta School Board member Tom Cheater has said.
The loss of revenue by the booster and other clubs selling such items will be devastating to them, predicts Cobb School Board Vice Chairman Randy Scamihorn.
The new law is aimed at trying to reverse the growing trend toward obesity, the evidence of which is nearly everywhere you look these days. But it has left a sour taste, forgive the pun, with many of those who actually run our schools. And they have been anything but quiet about it.
The Cobb and Marietta school systems have each sent complaint letters to the state Department of Education about the new law. And the state DOE says it will ask the feds for a waiver that would allow schools to have 30 opportunities to sell banned snacks at fundraisers that would last no longer than three days each.
That would be helpful — but it also serves to emphasize what a perverse bunch of “Mickey Mouse” rules the Obama Administration has dumped on our schools.
What’s next? Guidelines from Washington not just mandating what snacks are sold, but decreeing students must eat a certain number of bites of them? Requirements that they “clean their plates” in the lunchroom or else get a failing grade? Or worse — a rule prohibiting private fundraising by school clubs at all, thereby serving to increase the public’s dependence on the school bureaucracy? Stranger things have happened.
We don’t need a waiver from the Smart Snack Law. It’s a “snack” that needs radically rewritten — or skipped altogether.