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Watchdog.org blows lid off Vermont’s bake sale brownie ban

By   /   September 19, 2014  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 21 of 80 in the series Nanny State of the Week

By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org

Brownies, cookies, cupcakes and other essential elements of any successful bake sale have been banned by new rules for food in Vermont public schools.

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DELICIOUS AND ILLEGAL: Vermont’s ban on brownies and other bake sale goodies means school clubs and sports teams will have to find new, less delicious, ways to fundraise.

Thanks to rules that grew out of a 2010 state law, bake sales used as school fundraisers have to switch out the sweet treats and replace them with options like gluten-free, paleo lemon bars, kale and fruit.

Watchdog.org’s Bruce Parker, who is no stranger to exposing Vermont’s nanny state tendencies, exposed the state’s bake sale brownie ban last week in a story that you honestly have to read to believe.

The new school lunch pattern has low-fat, leaner proteins, greater variety and larger portions of fruit and vegetables; the grains have to be 100 percent whole grain rich,” said Laurie Colgan, the child nutrition program director at the appropriately-dystopian-sounding Agency of Education.

Colgan, who is probably one of the few people on the planet who would prefer a kale biscuit to a fudge brownie, had the chance to exempt fundraisers like bake sales from the new nutritional guidelines, but decided instead to wield her power to ban brownies and other sweet treats from “the whole school environment,” according to Parker’s story.

What are the unintended consequences of the brownie ban, one has to wonder?

Will there soon be an elaborate brownie bootlegging scheme running in Vermont schools, sneaking treats across the border from New York by crossing Lake Champlain under cover of darkness — or perhaps just sneaking them from the homes of parents who are sympathetic to the brownie bootleggers cause?

Will brownie gangs battle for control of the illicit bake sale trade, carving up the streets of Rutland like it was 1930s Chicago?

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NOT THE CUPCAKES TOO: Yes, they banned the cupcakes too.

And what, exactly, is the exchange rate for an illegal brownie at a school lunch table (as anyone who has ever sat at a lunch table can tell you, these types of negotiations are tricky even when the brownies, fruit snacks and chips are all legal)?

Probably not. But Vermont might want to take a look at its southern neighbor to see what sorts of things do happen when bans like this are imposed.

Here’s a hint: School bake sales usually act as fundraisers for clubs and sports. But in order to raise those funds, people have to actually spend money on the things being sold.

Raise your hand if you think a bake sale featuring kale biscuits is going to be as successful as one with fudgy brownies — you know, the ones that are still kind of warm in the middle and just the right amount of moist and they just smell so delicious and you have to have more than one because, come on, that’s like a perfectly chocolately slice of heaven right there — take my money already.

In Massachusetts, an effort to ban brownies and other sweets at school bake sales incited a bake-lash not seen in that state since the British tried to march on Lexington and Concord.

As the Boston Globe reported at the time the state tried it’s brownie ban:

Representative Bradford Hill, an Ipswich Republican, said he proposed junking the ban after being inundated with calls from school booster clubs, from football to the drama club, saying they desperately needed bake sale money to continue operating.

Hill said that when legislators debated and ultimately passed a bill in July 2010 directing public health officials to crack down on junk food in schools, they never dreamed the officials would declare war on beloved bake sales.

Terri L. Murphy – treasurer for the Ipswich Music, Art & Drama Association, a booster club for arts in local schools – said she e-mailed Hill when she heard about the ban earlier this week.

“It was like, ‘Oh, no, we’re going to lose about $6,000 a year,’ ’’ she said…

… “Do we put out apples and oranges and yogurt? Yes,’’ )Murphy) said. “Do they sell? No.’’

Similar concerns are already cropping up in Vermont.  Unless this is all a backdoor attempt to shut down schoolchildren’s extracurricular activities  — and, really, who has the energy for extracurriculars when all you’re eating is kale  — maybe Vermont should reconsider the ban.

But until parents demand a change ,or until little brownie gangsters are running the Green Mountain State’s schools, the ban is here to stay.

That’s why Vermont’s Agency of Education is this week’s winner. Their prize is a never-ending buffet of stale kale biscuits.

Boehm can be reached at EBoehm@Watchdog.org and follow Bruce Parker’s excellent work right here.

Part of 80 in the series Nanny State of the Week
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  2. Nanny-state city of the week: Minneapolis wants to ban take-out trays
  3. Skim is in: CT lawmakers want to ban whole milk in day cares
  4. Nanny state of the week: Fairfax, VA, wants to limit the right to assemble
  5. Nanny state of the week: SC — and Schumer — for duplicative efforts to ban powdered alcohol
  6. Nanny of the Week: Virginia hoses down car wash fundraisers
  7. Nanny of the Week: Even a summertime trip to the beach can’t be nanny-free
  8. Nanny of the week: Federal authorities think feral cats can read signs
  9. Nanny of the week: Cambridge wants to ban ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft
  10. Nanny-stater of the week: NY lawmaker wants to ban photos with tigers
  11. Nanny-stater of the Week: Who needs cupcakes and candy? Here, have a pencil
  12. Nanny-stater of the week: Fargo limits kids to less than four shots of juice per day
  13. Nanny-stater of the week: Wisconsin towns fight repeal of bow ban
  14. Nanny of the week: No fun in the sun, thanks to Congress and FDA
  15. Nanny-stater of the week: DOT to ban cell phone use on planes
  16. Nanny of the week: The out-of-control trend of arresting non-helicopter moms
  17. Nanny of the Week: Vermont city could ban ‘human activity’
  18. Nanny of the Week: Mississippi makes bird feeders illegal – by accident
  19. Nanny of the week: MO town bans breastfeeding near pools
  20. Nanny of the Week: School bans lip balm, 11 year-old girl fights back
  21. Watchdog.org blows lid off Vermont’s bake sale brownie ban
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  41. Nanny of the Week: Bernie Sanders is coming for your deodorant
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  62. Nanny State of the Week: New York might accidentally ban makeup
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Eric is the national regulatory reporter for Watchdog.org. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and Fox News. He was once featured in a BuzzFeed list-icle. Follow him on Twitter @EricBoehm87.