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Mass. Students Can Have Their Cake and Sell It, Too

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Pro-cupcake lawmakers forced the Patrick administration into total capitulation yesterday in its war on sweet treats after a nationwide outcry over the threat to kids’ freedom to stage bake sales in public schools.

“We’re liberating bake sales,” Senate President Therese Murray proclaimed moments after senators voted 34-0 to ease the state’s controversial nutrition rules. “It’s so silly. Imagine banning bake sales? It’s bureaucracy gone a little crazy.”

Gov. Deval Patrick said he’d sign the measures approved by the House and Senate, preserving the time-honored American bake sale, letting local school committees decide whether to adopt elements to the new nutrition rules.

“Nobody’s interested in banning bake sales,” Patrick said. “We are interested in student nutrition and good choices.”

The issue exploded after the Herald reported the new rules Monday. Lawmakers were bombarded with protests from school and parent groups fearful they’d have to cancel long-standing fundraisers and multicultural events.

The state’s Department of Public Health also came around yesterday, announcing it would pass “emergency provisions” in June to lift the bans on bake sales and other food-fueled school fundraisers. Commissioner John Auerbach said the school nutrition guidelines “have always been about reducing childhood obesity in Massachusetts and protecting our kids from the serious long-term health impacts that obesity can cause.”

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DPH noted lawmakers were the ones that directed them to come up with better school nutrition standards in 2010.

But Murray countered that a senior senator warned DPH on March 11 that their rules went too far. “There was nothing in the bill that would have prohibited a bake sale,” Murray said.

The Bay State’s cupcake crackdown prompted an Internet firestorm of rage and mockery over PC sensitivities run amok, prompting another celebrity chef to weigh in yesterday. Adding her protest to that already voiced by TLC’s “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro, culinary queen Paula Deen suggested Bay State politicians adopt the simple advice of a reformed, googly-eyed Sesame Street icon.

“With all the cuts, schools need easy, foolproof fundraisers,” Deen told the Herald. “I’d like to quote my old friend Cookie Monster: ‘Cookies are a sometime food.’ Y’all, everything in moderation.”

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