House GOP Influences Healthy Kids Rules

Department of Education Incorporates Raecker Amendment into Healthy Kids Rules

In April Republican Rep. Scott Raecker offered an amendment asking for a common sense, one-year delay in the implementation of the Healthy Kids nutritional standards. The amendment lost on a party-line vote. (See H-1565, House Journal page 1436).

On Tuesday, June 9th, the rules implementing the Healthy Kids Act took center stage at the legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee.

Interestingly, the rules now contain the very same one-year delay suggested by Rep. Raecker. Why the reversal?

Over the past six months parents, schools and legislators expressed concern about the stringent – bordering on ridiculous – nature of the rules.

The rules implement 2008 legislation that got tucked into a 148-page Human Services Appropriations bill. The stand alone bill, SF 2279, was never debated.

The Department of Education changed the rules to some extent with the biggest surprise being that the agency delays the implementation of the nutritional standards until July 1, 2010.

Here a summary of how the rules look today:

  1. Cardiovascular Exercise – Written Agreement Required: The rules follow the law in requiring 30 minutes of physical activity each day for kids in grades K through 5 and 120 minutes of physical activity each week for kids in grades 6 through 12.

    Ironically, Iowa doesn’t require any written agreements for student learning time but it does for exercise.

    The rules independent of the new law require a written agreement between each Iowa school student, the school principal and the parent. The agreement states “the nature of the activity, the starting and ending dates of the activity.” The agreement also has to contain “sufficient information about the duration of time of the activity each week.”

    Ironically, Iowa doesn’t require any written agreements for student learning time but it does for exercise.

  1. Nutritional Standards – Yogurt is Safe, Big Kids Get Caffeine, “Regulated Fundraising” defined. Yogurt is now safe to eat anytime of the school day. All restrictions on yogurt are gone from the new rules.

    As stated earlier, the nutritional standards take effect on July 1, 2010. But there are two exceptions.

    Sodium levels start at 600 mg per entrée item but are lowered to 480 mg starting July 1, 2014. Likewise, sugar levels in milk are phased in at 27 gram per 8 ounces starting in 2014, 24 grams in 2017 and 22 grams in 2020. These dates correspond with full implementation of the model core curriculum.

    Under the new rules, elementary students are not allowed caffeinated beverages during the school day. Middle and high students, however, can “access” caffeinated drinks but not during the time the vending machines are turned off.

    Fundraising is now split into two categories: regulated and non-regulated.

    “Regulated fundraising” must follow the nutritional standards and is defined as:

      “the sale of foods or beverages on school property targeted primarily to PK-12 students by or through other PK-12 students, student groups, school organization, or on-campus school stores.”

    This means that the German Club’s bake sale must follow the nutritional standards.

    All other fundraising does NOT have to follow the rules and that includes:

      “foods or beverages sold as part of other fundraising events; sold at concession stands; provided by parents, other volunteers or students for class events; or provided by staff for consumption by staff or students.”

All that being said, you may not have heard the last of the Healthy Kids Act. Why?

Because the rules politely allow schools to do more. They can:

    “prescribe reasonable rules for their staff, volunteers, students and parents, guardians or custodians of student to adhere to regarding foods and beverages provided on school grounds by staff, volunteers students and parents, guardians, or custodians of students.”

That means local schools can write their own rules to regulate what parents are allowed to pack into their child’s lunchbox.

  • “Common sense” would dictate that our current solutions or means to avoid their discussion aren’t addressing the problem of childhood obesity. And insanity is defined as doing the same thing and expecting results.

    “Common sense” then means changing the current ability of parents and children to avoid the responsibility for their diet choices. As these choices will lead to much greater costs on our already debilitated healthcare system. Imagine the costs to our economy when 30% of rising employable adults rise into it with diabetes and the effects of obesity.

    Insanity is continuing to bunker in with partisan diatribes at the same time continuing to refuse any constructive alternatives.