Food, beverage items sold as part of fund-raisers during the school day must comply as well, Ogaard says
New federal regulations that took effect July 1, known as "Smart Snacks," will have Crookston School District Food Services Director Anna Ogaard monitoring not only food served in the school cafeterias more closely than ever, but also food items offered for sale as part of various student club and activity fund-raisers.
"These are very tight regulations; I'm having a hard time finding enough items that comply for the high school a la carte line," Ogaard told the Crookston School Board. "Pretty much anything you can think of when it comes to nutrition is going to be more strictly regulated."
But, Ogaard added with a hopeful smile, "It will all taste amazing."
Under the new guidelines, any food or beverage sold to students on the school campus during the school day – which is considered in Smart Snacks to run from midnight until a half-hour after the school day bell rings – must be in compliance. Ogaard will have to maintain records, mostly through gathering and reporting the data on various food labels and food specifications, and report that information to federal officials.
It's one thing to serve as nutritious of a lunch as possible that still tastes good and pleases student palettes, Ogaard said, but the fact that the new guidelines cover food items sold as part of various fundraisers is an entirely separate monkey wrench thrown into the food service program. She said she's going to have to rely on teachers and various club and activity advisors and athletic coaches to get her the food labels and specifications that she needs to comply with the new law.
"For example, the Valentine cookies sold by the Leo Club during the school day are going to be regulated now," she explained. "Or, for an elementary pizza party, if you request a donation, it's a fundraiser. If you just have a pizza party and you pay for it, that counts as everyone bringing cold lunch that day."
Cold lunch that students bring from home does not have to meet the new federal guidelines. Also exempt from Smart Snacks are vending machines in teachers' lounges, Ogaard added, and frozen food sold by CHS Music students because that food is not eaten during the school day.
Once more than 30 minutes pass after the end-of-school bell rings, vending machines and food at concession stands that sell food and beverages than don't meet the guidelines can be turned on and/or opened up, Ogaard said.
She said she's willing to work with any teachers, club advisors or coaches on how it all works. "It's going to be a difficult task for everyone early on," she said. "If you sell or serve a cookie, it has to be 51 percent whole grain. There are great tasting cookies that are 51 percent whole grain, and I can help you find them."
There will be other exemptions early on for fund-raisers already approved by the school board, Ogaard said, but eventually federal regulators are not going to want to see a bunch of exemption request forms submitted.
Citing food that was consumed during various Prime Time activities at the high school before he retired as a teacher, board member Dave Davidson said he predicts rough sailing ahead. "Do these folks have any idea how difficult some of this is going to be to monitor?" he wondered. "This kind of stuff goes on all the time."
Ogaard said it's going to take a school-wide effort. "I can lead that effort, but I'm going to need everyone's help," she said.