nocupcake.jpgThe other day on the playground, a mommy friend said, “did you hear? Bloomberg banned bake sales in the schools.” 

I thought she was kidding–we’d beeen the PTA Co-Presidents last year, and bake sales had been an ongoing aggravation: when to schedule them, how to staff them, how to scan every donation for potentially lethal ingredients (nuts! sesame seeds! wheat!), how to make sure that all the kids got a chance to exchange their sweaty quarters for a chocolate chip cookie.

But despite the aggravation, we staged those bake sales, yes we did. And there are four thousand, five hundred and twenty-two reasons why we did so: the four or five bake sales we held last year brought in 4,522 dollars.

That’s a lot of sweaty quarters.

That much money allows our PTA to foot the bill for 5th graders whose families can’t afford the price of the 5th grade class camping trip; to pay for kids who might not otherwise be able to join the track team; to fund instrument rental for kids who REALLY want to play the trombone, but whose parents don’t have any extra money in their budgets.

The joke is that this is no joke: the DOE really and truly has put a policy in place that bans bake sales.

Bake sales sell unhealthy food, according to Mayor Mike and his sidekick, Joyless Joe, and so they are going to save our tubby children from further expansion.

Banning monthly or bi-monthly bake sales seems a tad…um…bass-ackward, frankly, if your goal is healthy kids with healthly habits.  What about…having gym class more than once a week? Or a post-lunch recess period that lasts longer than 20 minutes? Oh–right–I forgot. Those activities would take time away from Very Important Test Prep.

So okay, clearly more exercise is out of the question because Data Collection and Accountability matter more.

Let us then consider the school lunch menu for elementary schools in Manhattan, shall we?  Today’s choices are Sweet & Sour Roasted Chicken, Golden Fish and Cheese, White Rice, and if you’re at a SchoolPlus cafeteria you can get collards with sweet tomato.  Anyone want to place bets on how many fourth graders are getting the collards? And could someone define “golden fish” for me? If you drop your kid off for the free breakfast, she could have had a turkey patty with cheese on a biscuit, or pancakes with syrup. Tomorrow’s lunch is something called Southwest Style Beef that comes with something called “Baked Scoops.” Not sure baked scoops of what, exactly, but I’ll bet it’s…healthy. 

And as we peruse our school lunch menus, let’s not even THINK about what all my friends are calling the “scary hamburger article” in Sunday’s Times.  I mean, given the choice, wouldn’t you rather your kid eat a sugar-bomb cupcake than hamburger meat that’s potentially riddled with E. coli or god knows what else?  Can the DOE can guaran-damn-tee me that the burger patties, taco beef, and “baked scoops” on their lunch menus come from utterly safe sources? Given that the USDA is pretty much in cahoots with the beef-packing industry, I’m thinking that’s a promise that will be a long time coming.  

So yeah, let’s ban bake sales instead of equipping school kitchens so that they can actually cook. Right now, most school kitchens simply assemble food from a list of DOE approved ingredients: frozen pre-roasted commodity chickens, for example. Would anyone like to think about the source of something called a “commodity chicken”?

Notice that I’m not even talking about how school organizations and PTAs are supposed to make up the shortfall in their budgets if they can’t hold bake sales. The Times article quotes a school official as saying that maybe schools could hold walk-a-thons to raise money, instead of bake sales. Hmm… let’s see. Collecting money from donors, finding a route, organizing the participants, hoping it doesn’t rain…versus a table in the cafeteria stocked with treats brought in by parents.

Okay, now maybe smokers felt the same way when smoking was banned in bars, but no one yet has said that a cupcake a month causes cancer. Banning bake sales brings to mind the word “draconian” – also ridiculous, farcical, and you’ve-got-to-be-fucking-kidding (if I hyphenate it’s one word, right?)  It’s like cutting off your hand because you’ve got a hangnail.

I’m fighting back, dammit. I’m going to send Liam and Caleb to school EVERY SINGLE DAY with lunchboxes filled with cupcakes, cookies, brownies, maybe even the occasional gummy worm–and I’m telling them to share with all their friends.

Let Bloomberg send the Sugar Stasi after me. They can have my cupcake when they wrestle it out of my fat sticky fingers.