USDA Shifts Blame to States for Bake Sales Bans

Craig Bannister
By Craig Bannister | August 15, 2014 | 4:56 PM EDT

It's not the USDA's fault schools are banning and restricting bake sales, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon said in a statement posted today on Michelle Obama's Let's Move website.

Media reports have been wrong to blame the USDA, since the states solely responsible for any bake sale restrictions, Concannon says:

"Several recent media reports have misrepresented how the bi-partisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act's Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards will impact school fundraisers like bake sales."

"I'd like to set the record straight: the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not imposing federal restrictions on bake sales or fundraisers."

"USDA has given states complete authority to set policies on fundraisers and bake sales that work for them. States are free to allow fundraisers and bake sales featuring foods and beverages that don't meet the new standards during the school day if they choose. They, not USDA, are responsible for determining the number and the frequency of these events each year.

"Even before the Act was passed in 2010, USDA made clear in a letter to Congress that it had no plans to limit bake sales and other fundraisers."

The Dec. 1, 2010 letter from USDA Sec. Thomas Vilsack said:

"Section 208 only applies to foods sold outside of the school meal programs on campus during the school day and specifically directs USDA to consider special exemptions for occasional school-sponsored fundraisers such as bake sales.

"USDA agrees with and will respect the intent of Congress to permit exemptions for school-approved fundraisers - including bake sales and other occasional or infrequent fundraisers."

The statement goes on to say that restrictions on selling sweet or salty foods pre-date the USDA initiative and are a local decision:

"According to USDA research, prior to Smart Snacks, more than half of all schools did not hold fundraisers that sold sweet or salty foods. It is not surprising that many schools and states have now opted to continue those policies. That is their choice and a local decision."

Bake sale bans have been the subject of both national and local news reports in recent weeks. Recent headlines featured on the popular Drudge Reports, for example, include: