Wednesday, May 9, 2012
New No-Nonsense Nutrition Laws Could Hurt Cash-Strapped Schools, PTOs, and Booster Clubs
Though I am politically active, I don't talk politics much at my blog. As a family-friendly site, however, I think it's important to discuss topics that could impact families. A new proposed law in Massachusetts could have a negative impact on schools, PTOs/PTAs and booster clubs that are already hurting in this tough economy.
In an effort to combat childhood obesity, the Departments of Public Health and Education wish to outlaw bake sales from Massachusetts public schools as of August 1st. According to this article published in the Boston Herald, it will also remove whole milk and white bread.
Parents and PTO/PTA groups have been vocal in their criticism. According to the article, "state officials are also pushing schools to expand the ban 24/7 to include evening, weekend and community events such as banquets, door-to-door candy sales and football games." Being a member of a PTO for many years, I can see why. Candy bars, bake sales, and cookie dough fundraisers are regular staples in our school district.
The article quotes State Sen. Susan Fargo (D-Lincoln), chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Public Health. “If we didn’t have so many kids that were obese, we could have let things go." Furthermore, she states, "this is a major public health problem and these kids deserve a chance at a good, long healthy life.”
While I agree every kid deserves the chance at a good, long healthy life, what is the next step--regulating what groceries we buy? Don't laugh, it's not that far off if a bill like this can pass. I'm definitely not opposed to improving the offerings for school lunches, but the fundraising arms for schools need to be allowed to implement proven strategies that bring in much needed cash. Yes, there are alternative fundraising ideas; one of our schools tried this environmentally friendly option, but what brings in quick cash are things like bake sales. If they didn't work, they would have been abandoned long ago.
There are two other aspects to this proposition that are equally important. The first is loss of jobs. In a struggling economy is it wise to put more people out of work? What do state officials think will happen once school and sports fundraising committees are forced to seek alternative methods? Without their support, fundraising companies would have a reduced demand, which could lead to layoffs. Does Massachusetts need that when the job market is finally showing some improvement in the Commonwealth?
The other aspect is an ongoing problem where the government feels the need to decide what is best for all of us. What makes this country great is our freedom of choice. Take that away, and we're no different than any other country suffering under a dictator's rules. Trying to pass a law that regulates what food can be sold by school PTOs and booster clubs takes away their freedom of choice. It also masks the real problem: parents not helping their children make good choices.
Our family went to Golden Corral over the weekend--not my choice. The Lil Diva (10) has a huge sweet tooth and wanted to try out the chocolate fountain. She ate a good meal and was allowed to visit the chocolate fountain twice. The first time, she chose two marshmallows and one strawberry to dip. The second, she went for two more strawberries. The Lil Princess (8) also opted for a chocolate covered marshmallow the first trip up, but didn't dip her Rice Krispies® treat on her next visit. Could they both have eaten more from the dessert table? Yes! But just like my husband and I don't fill up on sweets, the girls are being taught by example not to overindulge. That's our responsibility as parents. If parents opt not to take that responsibility, the government's role isn't to force it upon them. The government wasn't created to ensure we make the right choices in life. It was created to prevent anarchy and dictatorship. It was created to prevent a vocal minority from overrunning the majority.
Right now it seems a vocal minority is trampling the majority with its good intentions.