As part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, new federal “Smart Snack” regulations took effect in July 2014 that barred the sales of snacks on-campus with more than 200 calories or 230 milligrams of sodium. That regulation included fundraisers by school groups which are held on school property at any point from midnight until 30 minutes after classes adjourn for the day.
But many student and parent organizations were upset with the US Department of Agriculture language that effectively prevents them from selling popular snacks as fundraisers, such as bake sales or offering cookies during lunch.
The state Education Department on Thursday outlined a new policy that will allow schools to get a waiver to cover roughly half of the 180 days that classes meet next year. Education Superintendent Molly Spearman said a limited number of exemptions are allowable under the federal regulations.
“Schools now have clear, commonsense guidelines in place that will benefit students and local communities,” Spearman said in a statement. “In fact, many school leaders have already taken the initiative to embrace healthy lifestyle choices for their students, which I strongly support.”
Spearman outlined the new policy in a memo Thursday, building on an early draft plan approved by the state Board of Education in October. The plan would authorize school districts to use up to 13 “Smart Snacks” fundraisers per school. Each fundraiser could last for three days, giving a total of 39 days for possible snack fundraisers.
Districts will be permitted to have up to 30 exempted fundraisers (for a total of 90 days) in the 2015-2016 school year. But the number will begin declining after that. Fundraisers will only be permitted to last two days in the 2016–17 school year (for a total of 60 days), then no more than one day per exemption in 2017-2018 (maximum of 30 days).
Health groups have pushed for no exemptions, citing the increasing child obesity rate.