Let Them Eat Pop-Tarts
March 18th, 2010


If you thought a bake sale was just a place to scarf down a brownie think again. To the parents, children and local officials protesting the Department of Education’s new bake sale policy, the selling of home-made goodies epitomizes democracy, tradition, community and, yes, health.

As has been widely noted – and ridiculed– the Department of Education
new rules last month that would sharply curtail the sale of homemade treats in cafeterias and at school events. Instead clubs and others looking for funds could peddle 27 department-approved items — including Pop-Tarts and individually sized bags of some types of Doritos.

To those at today’s protest near City Hall, this makes no sense. To drive their point home they set up two tables one with banned treats, including mini-empanadas, pumpkin bread and a vegan cake and the other with the packaged food, the Department of Education apparently prefers.

As three little girls ran around in ban junk food aprons, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio lauded the traditional bake sale as “an example of the New York we should all want to see. … This is about people living in a community, caring about their community, their neighborhood, their school as a community.”

And as he has done on other issues he chided the department for not consulting with parents before issuing their rules.

Based on her discussion with an unidentified principal, City Councilmember Gale Brewer said, many individual school administrators will ignore the ban, which also applies to students selling homemade food as an alternative to the institutional school lunch. “I look the other way,” Brewer quoted the principal as saying, “They [students] sell it in the cafeteria. They go to Costco and they make great food.”

Some parents fear the change will undermine the ability of parent organizations and school clubs to raise funds when budgets already are tight. Melissa Vigilante, bakes on coffee cake — on display on the “banned” table and, she said, “a legend” — almost every week to sell at a school bake sale. Each sale raises about $100 for such activities as music and dance.

“We should be able to do what’s best for our kids,” said Vigilante, who was at the demonstration with her daughter, a kindergartener at PS 36 in the East Village. “We wouldn’t have to have bake sales if we had enough money for band and dance and music.”

As to that, the department has some tips. Some department officials have proposed hawking t-shirts, with others have suggested selling crafts and jewelry.

In other parents, it’s time to trade muffins for macrame and packs up the bowls and bring out the beads.

By on March 18, 2010, 5:57 pm
In category: Gotham City | 3 Comments »

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