PTO Today

Helping Parent Leaders Make Schools Great

Bake Sales and Food Fundraisers Are Not Dead

August 19th, 2014 by


Lots of folks are wondering if the new USDA guidelines on nutritional standards for snacks sold in schools have essentially killed food fundraisers and bake sales, long a mainstay for PTOs and PTAs.

This is not the case.

Acknowledging there has been confusion around these new guidelines, which go into effect this school year, the USDA just issued a statement to set the record straight, saying it is “not imposing federal restrictions on bake sales or fundraisers,’’ and “states are free to allow fundraisers and bake sales that don’t meet the new standards during the school day if they choose.’’

Bottom line: Your group should check on the state level to find out what rules apply in your community. But there are no new federal rules.

Even if your community has adopted the federal guidelines, the USDA points out that it has always stated the restrictions apply to sales during the school day only. This means your group could hold food fundraisers or bake sales after school and during weekend events.

In early 2014, we published How Will Changing Food Rules Affect PTOs?, which examined how the USDA nutritional guidelines would impact parent groups. The guidelines stemmed from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which included Smart Snacks in School standards that would restrict sales of food in school cafeterias and vending machines. It requires that all snacks sold for consumption during the school day contain fruits, vegetables, lean protein, or whole grains, and have limited sugar, fat, and salt.

In its statement, the USDA said it never intended to regulate fundraisers or bake sales at the federal level, calling them “time-honored traditions.’’

If you would like more information from the USDA, you can read its statement here.

And, here’s a link to the USDA fact sheet on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

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2 Responses to “Bake Sales and Food Fundraisers Are Not Dead”

  1. Wendy W. Says:

    I just want to point out that this is a little deceptive.
    I’ve read through the USDA guidelines, and they DO directly impact such fundraisers. The new guidelines say specifically that ALL foods sold to students before and during the school day must conform to the new standards, unless a state provides for a fundraiser exemption rule (and then, it is up to the state to determine how many exemptions will be allowed per school year).
    If your state doesn’t provide for any exemptions for fundraisers, you CANNOT have fundraisers before or during the school day that sell items to students unless the foods you’re selling meet the new guidelines.
    It’s a game of semantics to say that there are “no new federal rules” effecting fundraisers; the new rules apply to everything sold before and during the school day to students. The ONLY exception to that is if your state has adopted its own fundraiser exemption policy. If your state hasn’t elected to do so, the new rules mean no food can be sold to students before or during the school day UNLESS they meet the new guidelines.
    I hope this can be clarified so that people aren’t confused about what the rules mean for their individual school district.

  2. Craig Says:

    Hi Wendy,

    Your not alone in your interpretation, which is why the USDA recently issued a very specific statement saying that interpretation is not correct — the rules do not affect bake sales or food fundraisers. Here’s a link to the statement on the USDA blog. The post is called “Setting the Record Straight::

    http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/08/15/setting-the-record-straight-healthy-school-meal-rules-allow-for-bake-sales/

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