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Texas Schools Fined Thousands For Bake Sales, Food Fundraisers
The goal was to sell snacks to raise money for some Texas high school booster clubs. But eight schools now face fines because those snacks broke nutrition rules mean to combat childhood obesity.
Fried chicken landed a Westbury High School coach in hot water when he tried to sell it on campus to raise funds for his team.
Westbury and Bellaire High were among eight Houston ISD schools slapped with fines totaling $73,000 for violating Texas Department of Agriculture regulations.
"Those guidelines include the nutrition content of the things that are sold outside the school cafeteria," Brian Giles with Houston ISD Food Services. "They include the time and the place those things are sold. They also require that nutrition information is provided for those items."
He also says in the past, fines have been relatively minor. But an audit last December found violations for what's called "competitive foods," which are brought in from the outside for things like bake sales.
Food and drinks of "minimal nutritional value" are a no no during school hours.
"I think bake sales are just to raise the money. A couple of snacks aren't going to hurt anybody," student Ebony Murphy said.
"And it's really probably a lot healthier than what they're doing at home, so I don't think the fines are correct," Teacher Sana Norris said.
Giles says it's sends a message that curbing obesity is a matter of public health.
"It is critical parents and schools understand the state guidelines and know that the state is very serious in terms of enforcing those guidelines," Giles said.
The guidelines vary from elementary to middle to high school. It's up to each school principal to determine what outside foods can be brought on campus.