Georgia Board of Education works to amend snack food law
by Hilary Butschek
July 25, 2014 01:11 AM | 3651 views | 3 3 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Randy Scamihorn
Randy Scamihorn
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MARIETTA — The state Board of Education said it will work to make changes to new federal food regulations two local school districts have denounced.

This decision comes after the Marietta and Cobb school boards sent letters denouncing the new food regulations nicknamed the Smart Snack Law.

But Matt Cardoza, spokesman for the state education department, said the board’s action to change the regulations are not a result of local efforts to fight against them.

“It is not a direct response to the letters,” Cardoza said.

He said the board decided to discuss the new law because it went into effect July 1.

“However, having this input from districts is very helpful as we go through the rulemaking process,” Cardoza said.

The federal law, which went into effect July 1, bans selling or giving children snacks and drinks considered unhealthy by the federal government during school hours.

Under the new rules, foods must be “whole grain rich,” meaning they should contain 50 percent whole grains, have whole grains as the first ingredient or have as the first ingredient a fruit, vegetable, dairy product or protein-rich food. Snacks must be 200 calories or less, and entrees must be 350 calories or less. Snacks must have less than 230 milligrams of sodium, and the fat content in any food must be no more than 35 percent of its total calories, according to SmartSnacksinSchool.com.

Diet soft drinks and low-fat milk will still be allowed in limited quantities. Water can be served in unlimited amounts and children can still bring snacks to school from home if they choose.

State School Superintendent John Barge said his board is working to amend the law to allow schools to hold fundraisers selling foods that would otherwise be banned at school because of the new law.

“Had we not brought this to the board, the default for fundraisers allowed would be zero,” Cardoza said.

Randy Weiner, chairman of the Marietta school board, said the biggest complaint he had about the new law was the limits it put on fundraisers, which are an essential way to fund school events and programs, he said.

Randy Scamihorn, vice chair of the Cobb school board, said the loss from fundraising as a result of the law would be “devastating” for local districts.

Weiner said the government went too far with the Smart Snack Law.

“Students need to have choices of food, and the White House, in my opinion, has no business regulating the food that the school district sells in the vending machines,” Weiner said.

The Cobb school board also denounced the regulation for the same reason.

“We did this in general because of the heavy-handed way the government is trying to implement this law,” Scamihorn said.

The law is now up for public comment, Cardoza said, so school boards have a right to denounce the law and ask for exceptions to be made for their schools.

The state’s education department is working to allow all schools to each have 30 fundraisers where the food is not regulated.

“While we are concerned about the obesity epidemic, limiting food and beverage fundraisers at schools and school-related events is not the solution to solving it,” Barge said in a statement. “We have faith in our local schools to make good decisions on behalf of children.”

Comments
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Taxpayer222
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July 26, 2014
I wonder who is protecting the rights of the parents trying to limit their children to healthy foods? Do those parents have to submit to junk food being hawked directly to their children at school? Make no mistake; this is about the complaints of companies like Chick-Fil-A who fear losing this lucrative business. I issue a challenge to Chick-Fil-A: come up with healthy foods that meet the government guidelines and also appeal to the kids instead of crying that the government doesn't want to let you sell junk/fast food when the parents aren't around to intervene.
cobb teacher
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July 25, 2014
Why can't we accept doing good things for our children. The two primary fundraisers that this affects are chick filet sales in schools and bake sales. My school has a pta bake sale every month and I would love to see it go. Schools can make just as much money selling other items such as bracelets.

we all complain and moan that kids are obese and lazy and then the same people complain when we try to do something about it.
Allow Smoking
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July 25, 2014
Next we should allow smoking in schools. The government has gone too far in regulating smoking, and it brings in plenty of tax money.
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