Schools fear what new guidelines mean for fundraisers

JONES, Okla. – School is back in session for a lot of kids, which usually means fundraisers for different organizations will soon begin.

But new guidelines have some wondering if those popular fundraisers that sell items like sausage, cookies and other desserts may be in jeopardy.

School leaders say the ‘Healthy Hunger-Free Act of 2010′ enlisted a new set of guidelines for what can and can not be sold at schools across the country.

Kim Thornton, Food Services Director for Jones Public Schools, said, “We’re still going to do popcorn, but our ice cream we’re going to change.”

Items sold a la carte in the cafeteria, school stores, snack bars and vending machines now have to meet certain health guidelines.

Thornton said, “They’re going to notice because it’s totally different than what they’re used to.”

At Jones Elementary, fundraisers are done every year selling popcorn, ice cream and even pickles from the front office.

Thornton said, “We can’t do pickles anymore because it’s too high in sodium.”

They also cannot sell little ice cream cups.

State officials say the changes are part of the ‘Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010,’ an initiative to make schools serve healthier options to students.

Debbie Hamilton, with the State Department of Education, has been training districts on the new guidelines. She says the changes are only impacting items sold by the school during the school day, with SOLD being a key word.

Hamilton said, “It affects any foods sold to students on the school campus anywhere during the school day.”

She says items which don’t meet the nutrient standards can be sold at after hours sporting events.¬† Those items can also be brought in to the school in lunches or for parties or other treats.

Hamilton said, “We’re not going to try to control anything brought in by parents for parties. We aren’t going to control anything that is a giveaway.”

The State Department of Education also says this will not impact those fundraisers selling cookie dough, cinnamon rolls, sausage or any other goods consumed and sold off campus.

The USDA says the state could choose to have some exemptions which would allow some of those fundraisers and bake sales to take place during school hours. However, Oklahoma has not asked for any exemptions.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education says they may ask for exemptions in the future based on feedback from school districts.

There is a calculator you can use to determine if an item meets the guidelines of what can be sold at school.

That can be found HealthierGeneration.org.