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.
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?
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.
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