LANSING, Mich. — Schools may once again be allowed to host traditional fundraisers such as bake sales if legislation introduced by Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Rep. Pat Somerville becomes law.
The legislators introduced Senate Bill 139 and House Bill 4202 to direct the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) to return the decision-making authority back to schools with regard to the types of food they sell at fundraisers.
Colbeck and Somerville believe the department went too far with its recent ban on non-approved food sales and its actions have hurt the ability of schools to provide extracurricular and social activities for students.
A new federal law that went into effect this past fall as part of first lady Michelle Obama’s plan to make school food healthier allows the MDE to dictate the number of “non-compliant” fundraisers schools may hold during school hours on school property. A non-compliant fundraiser is the sale of any food not on the federally approved “Smart Snack” list. Most of the foods traditionally sold to raise money for school activities, such as baked goods, are not on the approved list.
The MDE decided to allow zero non-compliant fundraisers across the board, severely limiting the ability of students to raise money for school trips, sports teams, and other organizations. In essence, this has meant the end of almost all food sales for fundraising events.
This measure directs the MDE to allow schools to hold up to three non-compliant fundraisers per week and puts the control back into the hands of the schools, parents and administrators.
“I have heard from students, parents, teachers and principals about how this new policy is hurting their school’s extracurricular activities,” said Colbeck, R-Canton. “A Cub Scout came up to me at a recent event in my district to tell me how he was not able to sell brownies at his school to raise money for his troop. This policy is not only hurting our schools but it’s also hurting non-profit organizations like the Cub Scouts and is an example of pure government overreach that needs to be addressed.”
“This is common sense legislation,” said Somerville, R-New Boston. “These decisions should be decided at the local level and not by the federal and state government. This legislation ends an overreach by our state Department of Education.”
SB 139 is expected to be considered on March 3 in the Senate Committee on Education and HB 4202 has been sent to the House Committee on Education.