At its most innocent, the bake sale is a longstanding tradition that raises money for school causes, disaster relief, and fighting disease. Unlike chemicalized commercial confections that rattle the teeth with their sugar content, baked goods at a local charity sale are homemade, and an expression of community spirit. So as the Aug. 1 deadline loomed in Massachusetts for schools to cease the sale of sweets within 30 minutes of class hours, grassroots pushback was inevitable. Elected officials listened: Lawmakers and Governor Patrick stepped in to preserve bake sales. Clearly, flexibility was needed.
Public health advocates fret that bake sales contradict the push for fruits and vegetables at lunchtime. They are correct that the time has come in the age of obesity for parents to consider fund-raising with other products or services. But even though the state’s new nutritional standards are, in general terms, a welcome tool in the fight against unhealthy eating, going cold turkey on the bake sale risked chopping off a genuine slice of the community pie. To paraphrase Mary Poppins, a spoonful of sugar at the bake sale may help the vegetables go down.