Washington (AP) - Don't touch my brownies! A child nutrition bill on its way to President Barack Obama - and championed by the first lady - gives the government power to limit school bake sales and other fundraisers that health advocates say sometimes replace wholesome meals in the lunchroom.Oh, goodie - the new legislation doesn't outlaw bake sales altogether! At least, that's not Tom Vilsack's intention. That's very reassuring, especially since the law of unintended consequences doesn't apply anymore. Besides, consider the name of this wonderful bill: The Healthy, Hunger-Free Act of 2010.
Republicans, notably Sarah Palin, and public school organizations decry the bill as an unnecessary intrusion on a common practice often used to raise money.
"This could be a real train wreck for school districts," Lucy Gettman of the National School Boards Association said Friday, a day after the House cleared the bill. "The federal government should not be in the business of regulating this kind of activity at the local level."
The legislation, part of first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to stem childhood obesity, provides more meals at school for needy kids, including dinner, and directs the Agriculture Department to write guidelines to make those meals healthier. The legislation would apply to all foods sold in schools during regular class hours, including in the cafeteria line, vending machines and at fundraisers.
It wouldn't apply to after-hours events or concession stands at sports events.
Public health groups pushed for the language on fundraisers, which encourages the secretary of Agriculture to allow them only if they are infrequent. The language is broad enough that a president's administration could even ban bake sales, but Secretary Tom Vilsack signaled in a letter to House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., this week that he does not intend to do that. The USDA has a year to write rules that decide how frequent is infrequent.
What could possibly go wrong?
As always though, the devil is in the mind-numbing details. But don't worry - I'm sure Obama will hastily sign this bill without reading it, and there will be plenty of time after that for Tom Vilsack and the rest of us to find out exactly what's in it.
Via CNS News. Cross-posted.