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Schools: Smart Snack rules will change recipe for fundraising

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

When Waccamaw Middle School students began a campaign to raise money to send a World War II veteran on the region’s final Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., they turned to the kitchen. They baked cupcakes and cookies and sold them at lunch as part of the effort that raised $2,500 in just over three weeks.

This year, that strategy won’t fly.

Federal nutrition standards that took effect this month limit the calories, sodium, fat and sugar content of food sold in schools as snacks and as fundraisers. “It’s going to be devastating,” Georgetown County School Superintendent Randy Dozier said.

The district has circulated information about the new standards to principals. “It’s definitely going to hurt fundraising,” said Tim Carnahan, principal of Waccamaw Intermediate School.

Milkshake Mondays and Biscuit Fridays are out. The fate of candy sales to benefit the Calypso Gators steel drum band is uncertain. The guidelines apply to food sold on campus during school hours, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which created the standards. “Can I sell it after 2:30?” Carnahan wondered. “We’re kind of waiting on more information.”

The standards are part of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that has changed the menus in school cafeterias. “They changed the menu so that it isn’t as attractive to kids,” Dozier said. The district’s cafeteria managers have continued to come up with new recipes to make the healthier ingredients more appealing.

The Smart Snacks standards limit items to 200 calories; 230 milligrams of sodium; no more than 35 percent of calories from fat; no more than 35 percent sugar by weight. Schools can sell water, low-fat milk and vegetable juices without added sweeteners.

“Maybe we’ll have Kiwi Wednesday,” Carnahan said.

At Waccamaw High, the rules won’t apply to the concession stand at sporting events. They would apply to the biscuits sold by various booster clubs. The parent-teacher organization, WAVE, doesn’t sell food. It sells Warrior Wear clothing.

“We sell food so we can give away T-shirts,” Carnahan said.

Eat Smart, Move More, a nonprofit that focuses on obesity in South Carolina, has been fielding calls about the Smart Snack rules for weeks, said Coleman Tanner, its community coordinator. “One of the biggest questions we get is about fundraising,” she said. “That’s where most of the push-back comes from.”

The nonprofit points to districts in Clarendon and Anderson counties that moved away from food-based fundraisers long before the new standards. “There are a lot of alternatives,” Tanner said. Book fairs, plants, greeting cards and wrapping paper are among them.

Waccamaw Intermediate held a jog-a-thon benefit last year. Carnahan expects there will be more events along those lines. “It’s going to have an impact on fundraising. Whether it’s going to be a financial impact depends on what we find to replace it,” he said.

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