Cookiegate: Sarah Palin Takes on ‘Nanny State’ Nutrition Guidelines

By Jenny Schlesinger

Nov 9, 2010 4:17pm

ABC News’ Mary Bruce Reports:

Sarah Palin is baking up some controversy over proposed school nutrition guidelines in Pennsylvania. At a fundraising event at a Buck’s County school today, the former Alaska governor intends to serve students cookies to make a point about “laissez-faire” government. 

Pennsylvania’s proposed school nutrition guidelines would limit the number of sweets in classroom parties and encourage parents to serve more healthy snacks. The proposal, which will be voted on this spring, would also slash the number of birthday and holiday parties allowed in classrooms. 

Yesterday Palin tweeted that, in addition to her fundraising power, she “may bring cookies” to the Plumstead Christian School to protest the guidelines. 

“Hmm…may bring cookies to my PA school speech tmrw to make a pt ‘PA mulls ban on cake/cookies/candy@ school parties,’” Palin posted, linking to an article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about the guidelines. 

Today Palin took it further saying Pennsylvania was a “nanny state run amok.” 

“2 PA school speech; I'll intro kids 2 beauty of laissez-faire via serving them cookies amidst school cookie ban debate;Nanny state run amok!” the 2008 vice presidential candidate posted on Twitter. 

While Palin’s comments may be tongue-in-cheek, the debate over government intervention in school nutrition programs continues to be a point of contention in Congress. 

In August, the Senate passed the $4.5 billion "Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act," which would expand children's access to federal nutrition programs and give schools more money to spend per meal. Supporters say the bill would significantly improve the nutritional quality of school lunches by upgrading menus and banning certain junk food from lunch lines. 

The legislation, which awaits approval in the House, would mark the largest investment in child nutrition programs since their inception. 

Obesity has become one of the biggest public health challenges facing the country — in the U.S. roughly a third of children and teens are obese. 

Critics, however, question the legislation's hefty price tag. "Calls for long-term increases in spending on school meal programs are irresponsible," Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, testified before a House hearing this summer. 

"I have spent my entire career … on this kind of spending and I can tell you I absolutely have no idea where all that money goes," Rector said. "Before you propose spending even more money, you ought to at least have a reasonable accounting of where this money is currently going."

Update: Palin brought 200 sugar cookies to the students at Peace Valley Elementary, the elementary school associated with the Plumstead Christian School. According to her spokesperson, Palin said she wished she could have baked herself.

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