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Schools Ban Bake Sales: Say What?!

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schools can bake sales

Brett Berk: The New York City Board of Education has implemented a new policy banning bake sales in all of their schools. Well, mostly. Some groups -- like those connected to parent associations -- will be given a sweet pass. And if you want to peddle your toxic fat- and sugar-laden goods after 6 PM, once the building is chained and shuttered and feels like the stage set for some creepy horror movie, have at it. But otherwise, keep your brownies to yourself.

As an educator and child advocate, I totally understand the motivation behind a move like this. Allowing these kinds of things to be sold on school property and during school hours gives some illusion that they're officially sanctioned and supported, which isn't the best health-related message. And with four in ten NYC Public School students hitting the obese mark, implementing a policy like this might feel like doing something instead of doing nothing.

But moves like this, while symbolic, tend to lack impact, unless they're accompanied by deeper thoughts and actions. Like the recent flurry of interest in "family dinner time," or the past interest in Mozart for Babies, these kinds of simple, one-shot actions are not long-term cures, any more than washing down three Advil with a glass of Alka-Seltzer is a long-term cure for alcoholism. What we need in this country is not only efforts at regulation -- the decrees of which are simple and splashy and somehow comforting -- but also a coordinated and dedicated national health education curriculum for kids and parents, one that transcends the kind of simplistic fat:bad/broccoli:good lessons that we're currently teaching. (We could also use better access to affordable healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods, where fresh fruits and vegetables are often difficult to come by. Organic subsidies, anyone?)

These things are much harder to put into place, mainly because we have no coordinated and dedicated national health care policy, which is where one would traditionally imagine something like this coming from. Perhaps that will change at some point soon. Until then, the school soccer team (a healthy form of physical exertion we should be supporting) will have to find some other way to get the money to buy their uniforms. Hummus and carrot sale, anyone?

next: Dad Jailed for 'Abducting' His Own Kids
25 comments so far | Post a comment now
Don October 7, 2009, 11:57 AM

I think it’s a great idea, I work in a public school, and I am constantly turning down sweets and other things from people. A lot of the students here and way too fat for their age, and need some healthier choices in their diet.

But this is also yet another problem that schools cant fix. People need to start being parents to their children, and stop trying to be their friends.

Anonymous October 7, 2009, 1:56 PM

If schools had better funding, they wouldn’t need bake sales. Nowadays people can’t afford things like the wrapping paper sales my daughter’s school has…so what else are they supposed to do?

Kathy C October 8, 2009, 9:25 AM

Oh geez. I thought you were SERIOUS about a brownie variance. But you didn’t talk about that at all. And I also thought maybe you’d say something about an exception for the littlest girls scouts, you know the brownies.

But no. So I ask you, who is going to buy this now that brownies are banned?

tobin October 9, 2009, 7:07 AM

Why does it have to mean that sweets are “sanctioned” by the schools? The goods sold at bake sales are representative of the various cultures that comprise the school population. No one is forced to eat those sweets. I call horseshit on this decision.

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