LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Brownies, candy and other unhealthy snacks could again be sold at in-school fundraisers under legislation finalized Tuesday in a bipartisan rebuke of a Michigan agency’s decision to allow no exemptions to federal nutrition standards.
The Senate voted 33-3 to send the bake sale bill to Gov. Rick Snyder for his expected signature.
It would require the state Education Department to allow at least two fundraisers a week that do not meet the nutritional guidelines. Michigan and 28 other states currently have a “no exemption” policy to the “Smart Snack” standards that took effect last July, according to the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency.
Backers of the legislation said the U.S. government has overstepped onto local school districts’ turf, the standards are incoherent and bake sales without enough sugar will hurt fundraising for sports and other extracurricular activities.
“This has nothing to do with obesity. This is about federal government vs. local control,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Patrick Colbeck of Wayne County’s Canton Township.
Congress passed the school food standards in 2010, and they are part of a larger government effort championed by first lady Michelle Obama. Schools must follow government nutrition rules if they accept federal reimbursements for free and reduced-price meals for low-income students.
Opponents of the Michigan exemption said that once the legislation is signed, Michigan schools could have up to 72 fundraisers a year not in compliance with nutrition standards — double the state with the most right now, Illinois.
“These children, one in eight, are obese — not just overweight,” said Sen. Vincent Gregory of Southfield, who was among three Democrats to vote against the measure. “It is our obligation to make sure that (students) have healthy foods while they’re in school.”
The Smart Snack rules apply to all food sold to students anywhere on campus during the school day. They do not cover food students bring to school for their own consumption.
Under the bill, a group selling non-nutritional foods would have to notify parents a week in advance and include a description of products to be sold.