This year, Shaler Area will be going through some drastic changes when it comes to food service. Due to government guidelines, not only will bake sales be eliminated but also food vending machines and PTO doughnut sales.
A few years back, some students and teachers alike will remember the monsoon of student bake sales that were held. There was one practically every week and sponsoring clubs could make a couple hundred dollars per sale. This won’t happen anymore.
“In 2015-2016 we’re [enacting the] new regulations and we have a limit to what can be sold in the regular school day. So in order to ease into that transition, we went down to one bake sale per month [last year]. This year the regulations-smart snacks in school-says what we can sell during the regular school day, so bake sales during the school day had to go,” Mrs. Mindy Thiel, activities director, said.
The government, specifically the United States Department of Agriculture, has recently enacted these nutrition standards to eliminate junk food and offer healthier snack choices to students. While some may point a finger of blame at the school district, that would be a mistake.
“This isn’t a Nutrition Group guideline, this is a USDA guideline. It isn’t just for Shaler, this is national. This is for any school district that follows the national lunch program because the government is the one who hands out the reimbursements. They’re the ones who set the guidelines. If a school wants your reimbursements it has to follow the rules,” Jenny Pearson, the Shaler Area food service director said.
These new guidelines state any food sold in school must be “whole grain-rich”, have the first ingredient be a fruit, vegetable, dairy product, or protein food and snacks must contain at the most 200 calories.
So how do these regulations affect Shaler?
“We’re looking at labels more closely. Even in the Titan Shop we’re really looking at what we can and cannot sell to try to meet the guidelines,” Thiel said.
With this fundraising avenue closed, clubs are trying to think of outside-of-the-box ways to raise money. For example, the Spanish Honor Society is planning on holding a Day of the Dead Memorial. Any non-food sale has no restrictions to abide by. The Valentine’s Day carnation sale is a great example of this.
Other clubs are just selling foods that abide by the guidelines. The Japanese Honor Society will be selling sushi during school which meets the government’s standards.
While it is easy to target bake sales in the cafeteria during lunch periods, it is not as clear for things such as doughnut sales that have taken place in the morning before school. The guidelines state “the standards do not apply during non-school hours, on weekends and at off-campus fundraising events.”
At first it was thought the school could take advantage of that loophole.
“If we do it before school, some groups can still have bake sales but it would have to be before 7:15 when our school day officially starts. So it’s a loophole, a technicality. I want the groups to be able to fundraise,” Thiel said.
While those doughnuts sales take place before school hours, they run into another guideline roadblock.
Guidelines state that there can be no outside groups selling food until 30 minutes after a breakfast or lunch period.
Since the cafeteria is serving breakfast, doughnut sales in the lobby would be a violation of the guideline.
“It is a guideline that’s been in the wellness policy for Shaler in the past but it’s just been ‘Let’s let them get the fundraising to help their organizations. That’s how we felt as long as it wasn’t overdone or abused but they shouldn’t have ever been able to have bake sales in the cafeteria during the lunch [or breakfast] period,” Jenny Pearson said.
That guideline had last been updated in 2010 and stated nothing could be sold until 30 minutes after lunch. Even the food vending machines will have to be removed due to the new regulations.
“Were even eliminating vending machines because we don’t control those anymore, an outside company does and they are starting to put items in there that aren’t compliant with federal guidelines so we have to eliminate those,” Pearson said.
However, vending machines are just a small part of collateral damage from the new regulations. The biggest effects will be felt by the school clubs, who will need to find alternative ways of fundraising.
“It’s going to hurt our clubs. If [they] need a fundraiser (bake sales were a) good way to raise quick money. We need to figure out how we can still help them raise money within the guidelines,” Thiel said.