Today moms held a "bake-in" recently in New York City to protest the ban on the selling of home baked goods at school. In an effort to curb rising childhood obesity rates, NYC banned the sale of home made desserts. Moms say this is an important way for PTA's to raise funds to help with school arts programs and other needed projects that schools can't pay for. On the other hand, packaged snacks that meet certain nutrition criteria (such as no more than 35% fat) can be sold.
Is the NYC restriction on bake sales pushing kids in the wrong direction--towards packaged snacks instead of home made food? In my opinion--YES! I sit firmly on the mom's side in this debate. However, I do understand what the officals are thinking--they can control food intake if they know what's in the food--which you can do more easily with a packaged food that has a label.
In fact, I crafted a "Healthy Snack Guidelines" for the El Paso ISD, as the chair of the School Health Advisory Council. In Texas, the school day is already well regulated--no sodas in elementary or middle schools and part of our health policy allowed kids to buy water any time of the day. What I had a problem with was what was sold after school--it was a junk food free-for-all! Kids could buy candy, soda, chips--any of the food not allowed during school--once the bell rang and school was out. I saw this as a mixed message to students--the PTA is raising money to do plenty of good things--but they are doing it at the peril of student health. The guidelines are to help PTA's find healthier snacks--to steer clear of sodas, candy etc---but it doesn't regulate bake sales, which don't happen that often anyway.
The sad thing about the NYC ban is this: Cooking is a lost art and many kids never get the pleasure of smelling a cake baking or the joy of eating a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven. Bake sales give kids an opportunity to taste "real food." The point of school is to educate children--bake sales teach kids what wonderful things you can do with a few ingredients and a little motivation. Sure, they have sugar and fat but let's face it--don't we all like to indulge occasionally. Besides teaching our kids to read the label on packaged snacks, it's also vital that we teach them to enjoy high quality food--but to eat it in moderation!