SAD 72: Smart snacks apply to fundraising efforts

By Emily Butterfield

Contributing Writer

FRYEBURG — Though there was much discussion amongst school board members, SAD 72 directors accepted amendments to the first reading on the policy regarding the nutritional guidelines for school fundraisers.

As of July 1, 2014, all fundraisers that schools hold during regular classtime hours must meet the United States Department of Agriculture’s “Smart Snacks” guidelines. The policy states that foods must contain 35% or less of total fat and sugar, among other specifics.

“What happens if the board doesn‘t approve it? It is mandated to adopt it?” asked school board member Steve Dupuis of Stow, who also questioned whether there was a revocation of funds if the policy was not adopted.

“The reason this policy is here is to give guidance to fundraising groups,” said Director Norma Snow of Denmark. “In the past, we’ve allowed them to sell cookie dough, but unfortunately the federal government says that we’re not supposed to.”

She also said that even if the board decided not to approve the first reading on the policy change, they must still follow it because it is federally-mandated.

“There are a huge group of people here in this district that work really hard and continue to work very hard to keep foods of minimal nutritional value out of the mouths of these children,” said board member Kathiann Shorey of Sweden. “Most parents don’t want it…they don’t want cupcakes passed around school.”

Some members, such as Dupuis, were not as supportive of the idea, saying, “I just want to remind people of the absurdity and overreach of the federal guidelines and that over time you’re allowing an encroachment of freedom…it’s none of the school district’s business.”

Brownfield-Denmark Elementary and Snow School Principal Mark Schrader said, “While it’s not our place or our desire to say, ‘you can’t have this, you can’t have that’ we’re dealing with the fault. I think what Kathiann is trying to say is that we have to set a path for these kids.”

Board member Ed Spooner of Stoneham didn’t advocate for “cookies and cupcakes to be passed around,” but said he found it unfair to restrict what the Parent Teacher Organization can sell for fundraisers.

Members discussed nonfood-related fundraisers that have occurred in the past, such as New Suncook selling t-shirts.

However, it should be noted that in the updated guidelines by the USDA, it states that, “The proposed standards would not apply to nonschool hours, weekends and off-campus fundraising events.” It also allows for states to have some exemptions from this rule. Colorado, for example has allowed three exemptions to the fundraising policy per school building for the 2014–2015 year. Maine, however, does not have any such exemptions.

Although school board members discussed the topic in great length, the board passed the first reading of the measure along with others.

The next SAD 72 meeting will be held March 11 at 7 p.m. in the Molly Ockett Middle School cafeteria.

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