Coming down from the sugar rush (Claire Wever)
Coming down from the sugar rush

Claire Wever

Coming down from the sugar rush

March 13, 2015

At the beginning of this year, several KHS clubs, including French Club and Mission Compassion, had to stop selling packaged candy bars as a result of a federal law called the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, implemented  July 1, 2014. This law provides students with breakfast and lunch while also attempting to minimize public schools’ contribution to childhood obesity. Certain groups such as KYS and KHCares, however, are allowed to sell food for fundraisers as long as the food being sold meets certain nutritional requirements.

Why did KHS have to end clubs’ candy fundraisers?

Anna Kalfus, French teacher, contacted associate principal Mike Wade’s office in July 2014, asking for approval to order candy for French Club’s annual fundraiser at the beginning of the school year. In this fundraiser, French Club members had the option of selling a box of 30 $1 candy bars, which provided an alternative to paying a $20 membership fee.

Wade, however, said KHS clubs are no longer allowed to sell candy because of a new federal law geared toward ending childhood obesity. According to this law, food sold must meet certain nutritional guidelines: it must be below certain levels of sugar, fats and carbs, and it cannot be delivered during the day. This new policy is enforced by Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and it applies to schools across the state.

Who can still sell food for fundraisers?

The entire Kirkwood School District (KSD) gets five exemptions from this law each year to allow fundraisers involving food. Each fundraiser selling food is limited to a maximum length of two weeks.

KYS has used three of these exemptions this year, two for Pretzel Boy Pretzel sales and one to sell cinnamon rolls. All proceeds from these fundraisers go straight to charity, according to Bob Becker, KYS sponsor and science teacher. To get approval for the these fundraisers, he had to send in a copy of the nutrition facts and ingredients for each of these products. All were approved because of the five allotted exemptions.

Another group allowed to sell food is KHCares. KHCares helps to pay for backpacks, books, coats, school supplies and more for students who cannot afford them. To raise funds they sell Cookie Man Cookies. Although these do not meet the state’s nutrition requirements and the cookie sales do not use one of the five exemptions, Mike Wade, associate principal, said KHCares is allowed to sell them because it is one of most important fundraisers in the school.

“Because the Cookie Man Cookie sales were already in place, already concrete and raising a significant amount of money for one of our most important charities, they were allowed to continue,” Wade said.

Wade added that since the cookies do not meet nutrition requirements, the sales may have to end when Director of Food Services Vlada Buck reevaluates their compliance with the new anti-obesity laws at the end of the school year. He said KSD has two exemptions left to use for this school year.

Do the benefits outweigh the costs?

This year, clubs have had to be a little more creative in finding ways to raise funds.  Mission Compassion, for example, is selling wristbands to fund service projects.

“[Candy sales] were crazy lucrative,” Melly Wolfe, Mission Compassion president, said. “Everybody was buying, and we sold everything within days. I completely understand why it’s no longer allowed, but we’ve had to be a little more innovative with funding instead of going straight to candy sales.”

Similarly, French Club has been trying new methods of fundraising. At the beginning of this year, French Club sold iPad styluses for $3 each. In previous years, Cindy Koehler, French teacher, sold candy bars year-round to provide funding for expenses not covered by sales at the beginning of the year. She had a steady flow of customers who bought candy on a daily or weekly basis, and many were upset by the end of candy sales.

“[The response] has been nearly mutinous, especially at the beginning of the school year,” Koehler said. “This was something that had existed for several years. I had customers, including colleagues, who were not pleased that we had to give this up.”

However, in a nation where childhood obesity has more than doubled in American children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some see this as an improvement.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Becker said. “When a student comes to me selling grapefruit, I buy because I appreciate that it’s healthy. Plus, I like grapefruit. I would say overall, the end of candy sales is definitely a good thing.”

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