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Bake sale ban in Massachusetts sparks outcries over 'food police'

A cookie crackdown? A brownie ban? The time-honored bake sale falls under a new Massachusetts law that limits students' access to junk food before and after school. Aim is to fight obesity, but critics decry a nanny state of 'food police.'

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A bake-sale ban in Massachusetts schools, designed to combat youth obesity, has spawned a sort of nationwide food fight.

The crackdown on cookies is being met with a widespread criticism from bloggers, parents, and students who see it as a case of government gone too far. Turning brownies into contraband, they say, is the latest sign of a burgeoning "nanny state" that doesn't know its proper limits.

To blogger Bryan Preston, the move in Massachusetts is nothing less than a maker of national decline.

"It’s over. The whole American experiment. Over. Done," he wrote Monday on the PJ Media website. "The place where a stamp tax started a full blown revolution has now banned local school groups from selling tasty cakes to make a quick buck. Parents are angry, but no one has assembled the tar and feathers appropriate to the occasion. They probably banned tar for having too many calories."

Although it's a Massachusetts policy that has drawn the sudden attention, the issue of school food guidelines is national. It's under review by everyone from local school boards to the US Agriculture Department. As public officials consider ways to improve nutrition and reduce childhood obesity, rules and norms are changing in sometimes controversial ways.

In Massachusetts, a state law that becomes effective in August will limit access to junk food (including bake sale treats) at schools from a half-hour before the school day until a half-hour after it ends, according to local news reports this week. New guidelines from the state Department of Public Health go further, encouraging schools to apply the nutrition standards at all times.

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