Bake Sales: Let Them Eat Junk!
Filed under: Opinions
What is it about bake sales that is making them the focal point of more acrimony than national health care? My God -- can't we sell the kids a couple of cupcakes, pocket enough quarters to buy the school a field trip, and let the kids ingest an iota of sugar and joy?
Apparently not. For reasons ranging from allergies to obesity to what looks like food neurosis whipped with essence of Wicked Witch, bake sales are increasingly off limits at schools across the country. Or they are being twisted into new and hideous shapes: Yes, you can hold a bake sale, but only if you sell health food. Or only once a month, or after school hours. (Very helpful.) Or only if -- this really frosts my donut -- you sell pre-packaged, portion-controlled snacks and avoid all homemade goodies.
That's the new law in my sleepy little burg -- New York City. If you think it can't happen out by you, please recall that, despite the brown stuff in our air and rats in our subways, New York is a health trendsetter. We were the first city to outlaw transfats, and one of the first to ban smokers from bars. We mandated calorie counts on the overhead menus in fast food chains. So when our mayor sets his sights on snickerdoodles, watch out.
What foods has hizzoner deemed acceptable? There's a list of about 30 things, including two types of Doritos and Whole Grain Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts. (Not the #1 flavor my kids are clamoring for. Yours?) Homemade treats are verboten because they don't have labels on them, and the mayor doesn't want kids waddling off with any treat that's more than 35 percent fat or sugar. Grain-based products must also contain at least 2 grams of fiber.
Look, I'm all for healthy food in the lunch room -- I'm all for identifiable food in the lunchroom -- and I understand about allergies. Let's make sure there are always some store-bought treats for the kids who can't risk an unidentified cookie.
But beyond that, the bake sale is supposed to be a morale booster. A reason to get on that school bus. The sale is to lunch what recess is to reading logs. And it's lucrative!
Last year, when my son was in 5th grade, our school raised $400 a week from the zillions of cupcakes moms brought in. Cupcakes that cost pennies apiece, because they were baked from scratch or a mix, not purchased in six packs for $3 or $4 at the store. Often, the kids helped make them. How else do you think they learn fractions?
Well now there's a new lesson for them to learn: Civil disobedience. Have them march in with a tray of Rice Krispies Treats.
"What are they going to do? Send in the cops?" asks Nancy McDermott, a writer and fed-up mom girding for battle.
It's time to take back the bake sale, America. And if we need it, there's even a song. All together, now! "Keep Your Eyes on The Pies."
Related: Bake Sales Get Banned in NYC
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