September 2009

As childhood obesity rates continue to rise nationwide, more states are legislating what kids can eat at school. A bill to restrict junk food in South Carolina schools, including food sold by clubs and parent groups, has been revised to allow groups to continue to sell items like candy bars and cookie dough through fundraisers.

The bill, first introduced in January 2009, seeks to address childhood obesity by limiting the fat, saturated fat, calorie, and sugar content of snacks and beverages sold at elementary, middle, and high schools during the school day. As amended, the restrictions would not apply to after-school activities such as sports, performances, or student clubs like yearbook and drama. The revised language further stipulates that the bill "may not be construed to restrict or limit the school-approved sale or distribution by students, teachers, or groups of any food or beverage item for fundraising purposes."

The South Carolina School Boards Association worked to change the bill's language and soften what the organization considered a one-size-fits-all approach. "We do not oppose the bill's intent of providing healthy food choices to children," says spokeswoman Debbie Elmore. "What we opposed is the specific calorie and portion requirements that conflicted with state and national laws....We also wanted to make sure the bill did not limit fundraising activities of nonprofit support organizations in the school." The amended version passed the House and was sent to the Senate in May for discussion.