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Understanding the Mandatory HealthyHave we seen the end of the iconic school Bake Sale? If the cupcakes aren’t whole-grain or made from fruits and veggies, then this may be the case. There are new national standards being implemented throughout U.S. schools which require Smart Snacks to replace the sugary & fatty foods sold in vending machines, a la carte, and school store (also includes fundraisers). 

While this seems, on the surface, a great move toward battling childhood obesity (which is, of course the intent) some people have found flaws with this national regulation. The objection being: how can we raise money for the school if we can’t sell the popular snacks?

Now, for anyone who would rather skip reading through the regulations and interpreting the opposing sides, The Get Movin’ Crew has got you covered! 

This is a simple, straightforward guide to the mandatory healthy snacks debate. As we’ve talked about before, one of the first and most important steps to keeping our kids healthy is to be well-informed about current trends and areas where you can make a difference. 

So, are you ready to enter the ring and see who’s battling it out? Let’s go. 

Smart Snack Laws are a Step in the Right Direction

Defenders of the new healthy snacking standards and why they back the new requirements:

Below are a handful of reasons why backers of the new standards claim this is a positive move for American schools. These are the folks who agree with the USDA, that snacks made available in schools should: be a fruit, vegetable, protein, dairy, or whole-grain, and contain less than 200 calories with low amounts of fat, sugar and sodium. 

In the words of one supporter in an online forum focused on the debate:

“The government should support healthy eating habits by requiring that schools serve nutritious food to children. With the amount of video games, television shows and unhealthy food being forced upon today's youth, it is no surprise that this generation has one of the highest percentages of obese and overweight children that the world has ever seen.”

In a nutshell, that comment is the core of the pro-Smart Snacks reasoning: healthy snacks = healthy kids. End of story. But, for the sake of the debate, let’s break down their reasons a bit further:

  1. Providing healthy snacks in school will help fight the childhood obesity epidemic and battle the obesity-related illnesses in our country (Type 2 Diabetes, cardiac disorders, respiratory illness, etc.)
  2. Focusing on snacks broadens the area of influence; so we’re helping kids to eat healthy both in the cafeteria and in the school as a whole through healthy options in vending machines, school stores, and a la carte.
  3. Enforcing healthy snacks does not need to hamper school fundraisers (more on this point later!)
  4. Parents are on board! A whopping 72% support standards for school snacks and having parent approval/involvement is a major part of making a child’s education a success.

So there you have it! The pro-healthy snacks side paired down to 4 simple bullet points. Plus, if you want to hear the USDA speak for itself, check out the video below:


Smart Snacks Regulation Presents a Challenge for Schools

Those who disagree with making schools meet national standards for snacks and why they believe the regulation is an issue:

Let’s begin by making one thing crystal clear: those who are opposed to these national standards are NOT saying that childhood health or obesity issues should be ignored. Rather, their focus is on the side effects of these standards that could possibly present other challenges for schools. end of bake sales?

As mentioned before, the main issue they raise is that the standards infringe upon fundraising efforts: How can we have a successful bake sale if we can't sell cupcakes or cookies or candy? How are we supposed to afford field trips and gym equipment and new computers if we can't raise the funds to make them possible?

So let's take a look at the root issues that questions like these grow from and what reasons people are giving for being against the Smart Snacks standards:

  1. These standards should only apply to elementary schools. Students in middle and high schools should be able to make their own decisions regarding what foods to eat.
  2. Schools should not be punished if they cannot (or do not) meet these standards in terms of not receiving funding or being fined.
  3. The parents, not the schools, should be responsible of making sure kids eat healthy.
  4. The new standards just lead to a waste of food and resources. Rather than eat the healthy items, kids just throw them out or don’t purchase them at all.

In the interest of having our facts straight, a recent USDA report has actually found that “over 90 percent of schools are successfully meeting the updated standards, and kids are eating 16 percent more veggies and 23 percent more fruit. In the face of all that, healthier food standards haven’t increased food waste, and school revenue is up, not down” (Munchies). 

As a company made of people who understand the ups and downs of fundraising, we can understand where this side is coming from. But, are these new standards really a threat to school fundraisers? The USDA believes not and has offered a good deal of resources and solutions to aid in perceived challenges brought about by the changes. Check ‘em out!

Smart Snacks and Smart Fundraising

The USDA recognizes that bake sales and the like are time-honored traditions in schools and that the new standards can create a challenge in that regard. In response, they have provided information and resources in an effort to create a balance between making sure kids eat healthy foods and making sure schools can support their activities, supplies and programs. Here is what they have to say:

  • States can set a number of exempt school fundraisers so that a limited number of fundraisers could sell foods and drinks that do not meet the criteria of the new standards. 
  • Experiment with fundraisers that meet the standards (by providing healthy food or just not selling food at all) and promote healthy living for students through activities (hmm sounds familiar…) 
  • Understand that the standards are limited to food sold in school during the school day. Meaning, food sold at off-campus fundraisers or at sporting events does not need to meet these regulations.
  • Lastly, fundraisers that sell food items to other people (i.e., cookie dough sold to parents and neighbors) do not need to meet these standards.

We hope this has swept away some misconceptions about the new standards and perhaps made the debate a little clearer for those of us who were confused by the issue. We also encourage anyone who is struggling with coming up with fundraiser ideas in light of these new regulations to check out the other resources the USDA has made available AND to please contact TGMC about teaming up with us!