Friday, February 6, 2015

Diane Douglas: 'Smart Snacks' Requirements at Schools are Federal Overreach, Seeks to Strike Down

Posted By on Fri, Feb 6, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas plans to form a committee, made up of current and retired school district officials, that will review Title 15, the Arizona statute dealing with all things education, to identify regulations and requirements in the statute that are "antiquated, overreaching or unnecessary."

The announcement was made Wednesday during a meeting between the Arizona Department of Education and the House Appropriations Committee. 

“I support Gov. Doug Ducey’s efforts to reduce regulation on business and believe the same should be done for school districts that are struggling with limited resources,” Douglas said in a statement. “If a rule, regulation, or statute does not contribute to bettering the education of our children or providing financial accountability, it needs to be seriously evaluated for elimination. While this will not solve all problems, laws are continually added over time, but rarely, if ever, reviewed for removal when they no longer serve a purpose.”

Douglas pointed to a federal rule that controls what type of food or snacks parents are allowed to bring to school fund-raisers, known as Smart Snacks requirements, as major federal overreach. The schools chief said yesterday that she would be granting exceptions to these requirements.

“Forcing parents and other supporters of schools to only offer federally approved food and snacks at fund-raisers is a perfect example of the overreach of government and intrusion into local control,” she said. “I have ordered effective immediately, that the ADE Health and Nutrition Services division grant exemptions for all fund-raisers for both traditional public schools and charter public schools.”

Currently, there is a bill, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Debbie Lesko, which would "codify the granting of exceptions in state law." The bill was partially created after a fund-raiser was told she couldn't sell snow cones after school unless the snow cones were the type allowed on a list of federally-approved snacks. 

“I appreciate the leadership shown by Senator Lesko and completely agree with her that this illustrates the ridiculous regulations so pervasive today in government of all levels. Like Senator Lesko, I have confidence that parents can decide whether or not to buy food for themselves or their children at fund-raiser events, just as easily as they make their own food choices when their children are not at school.” Douglas said. “The thought that a federal bureaucrat knows better than parents what they can feed their own families is condescending and reprehensible.”

Smarts Snacks came into effect July 2014, and are part of the governments effort to improve students' eating habits. First Lady Michelle Obama is a major proponent of serving healthier foods at schools to tackle childhood obesity.

(Added after publication):

U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service Regional Administrator Jesus Mendoza response to Douglas' statement:
“States have always had complete authority to set policies on bake sales and other fundraisers that work for them. The updated school meal standards made clear that states are free to allow fundraisers that don’t meet the healthy standards if they choose.”

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