To show their displeasure with the rules set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the school board passed a resolution Tuesday that says the federal government has overstepped its authority.
Several school board members called the regulations, which limit calories, sodium and fat content, an overreach by the federal government.
“Students spend approximately 180 days in school each year, and don’t need Washington making it a joyless experience by ‘legislating away’ their opportunity to have an occasional donut or candy bar,” board member Tom Cheater said during Tuesday’s meeting.
Member Jill Mutimer said the standards make the assumption all children are obese and need caloric control. “What about athletes who need more calories?” she asked. “This rule is much more far reaching than most realize.”
Marietta High School Principal Leigh Colburn also weighed in.
“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.”
All three also brought up the potential revenue loss through fundraising. Colburn mentioned students in cooking classes who will no longer be allowed to sell desserts such as cupcakes or a program for special needs students. In the past, they sold coffee and muffins, she said, but if a whole-grain muffin exceeds the caloric count set by the standards, those foods are still forbidden.
The complaint does not include school lunches, Superintendent Emily Lembeck said. She said because the food in cafeterias is supported by federal funds, the federal government has the right to regulate what is served there.
She said the state is seeking a waiver for schools to have 30 opportunities to sell the banned snacks through fundraisers that would last no longer than three days each.
Marietta’s resolution will go to state lawmakers, she said, but for now, the district will respect the requirements of the smart snack standards, Lembeck said.
Cheater said he hopes the resolution will send a message to the federal government that school systems, and not Washington, are in the best position to decide what should be served in their schools.
Also on the agenda was further discussion about building a LED sign at Marietta High School, although the board did not take any action on it.
Chris Burns from Impact Local Marketing Group, which has built signs for many Cobb County District schools, including one at Sprayberry High School, gave a presentation on what his company could provide for Marietta High.
He explained a four-by-eight-foot LED sign would run about $85,000, and the cost would be paid for by an advertiser; the school district would not be responsible. Advertising would be split 50-50 between the school district and outside companies, with about 30 minutes going to each.
Cheater said he is a proponent of the sign, as long as it is large enough to be read and “is in keeping with the high standards we have set for our facilities.”
Board Chairman Randy Weiner called the example unappealing. Burns said his company could work with the district to make the sign more aesthetically pleasing and have some of the aspects of Marietta High’s design, such as its columns.