Not funny . . not funny at all

Government overreach and over regulation is never a laughing matter.  Unfortunately the First Lady of the United States and Hollywood elite seem to find humor causing severe strain on school budgets across the country.   Stafford is no exception.  As we work to meet many regulations and mandates pushed on us by the federal and state governments our budget is pushed to the limits.

Mrs. Obama has responded to school districts opting out of school lunch regulations in the Healthy Kids Initiative and to school children parodying school lunch regulations by releasing a video of her own through Funny or Die.

The nutrition requirements of the Healthy Kids Initiative have caused food prices to rise which has required costs of school lunches to be increased.   The regulations are also changing the way our PTOs and booster clubs fundraise.  

In many of our high schools PTOs and/or booster clubs have been raising funds through snack sales during the school day.   Under the Healthy Kids Initiative all food sales during the school day must meet federal nutrition standards.  This means the snack and muffin carts these organizations use for essential fundraising are no longer allowed to sell the snacks students most desire and will have negative effects on their ability to raise much needed funds.

Several members of the School Board were concerned and asked our administration to look into the school division's compliance with the Healthy Kids Initiative and what our options maybe.  We did learn that Stafford County Public Schools are fully compliant with the federal mandates in the Healthy Kids Initiative and our options are limited.  If we were not to comply with the mandates we would risk losing federal funding for school nutrition.  

Stafford county's food and nutrition services are funded through three primary sources.  The largest source of funding is the federal government to the tune of $14 million from federal funding and grants.   Even with that federal money we still bring in over $6 million in revenue through food sales.   If we were to opt out of the Healthy Kids Initiative we would lose the federal funding.  We would then have to raise prices on all food sales in our schools which would most likely result in 200% plus increases in the cost for a school lunch.

Federal and state mandates are creating significant issues for our school division to meet our budget needs.  While we want to ensure we have good facilities, good teachers and all the necessary technology and other tools to have a world-class learning environment, we are going to continue to struggle if they continue to push unfunded mandates down to us.  

Fortunate for the organizations that use snack and muffin carts in our high schools to raise funds vendors recognized the difficulty in meeting the federal regulations and have found alternatives that meet the regulations.   That will at least enable the carts to continue to sell goods.  We shall see if they are as successful and the students are as happy with the new options.

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commented 2014-09-08 14:09:40 -0400 · Flag
I would rather pay a little more and have my kid eat healthy at school than some of the garbage that has been available before the initiative. I’m so sorry that your budget depends on children forking over their parents money to by junk food at great cost to their health.

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