Inside Politics

Controversy over Palin's cookie comments at Pa. school

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Call it "Cookiegate". Sarah Palin is baking up a little controversy in Pennsylvania. She was the guest speaker last night at a fundraiser at Plumstead Christian School in Plumstead Township.

The speech was billed as non-political. But Palin did touch on some Tea Party themes and rallied her conservative base.

School officials hope her appearance in the end will bring in several hundred dollars. Palin's appearance fee, thought to be $75,000, was reportedly covered by private donors.

During her speech last night, Palin took aim at Pennsylvania's board of education.

Sarah Palin is calling Pennsylvania's plans to issue new guidelines limiting the number of sweets allowed in classrooms: "a nanny state run amok".

"I look at Pennsylvania and I think of sweets - I think of Hershey. Then I think, how dare they ban sweets from school here," said Palin.

Before her Bucks County speech, she tweeted that she intended to bring the students cookies to make her point about "laissez faire government."

"I brought dozens and dozens of cookies. I had to shake it up for you guys, especially the press okay."

Palin raises a larger point: Government intervention in school nutrition programs continues to be a point of contention in Congress. No stranger to controversy, Palin told the crowd she is hoping to spark conversation.

"I wanted these kids to bring home the idea to their parents for discussion," said Palin. "Who should be making the decisions what you eat, school choice and everything else? Should it be government or should it be the parents? It should be the parents." However, on Wednesday,Pennsylvania State Department of Education says Palin misrepresented the nutritional guidelines that the state board of education is considering.

They assert that there will be no "cookie ban" as she stated and that they will not mandate a limit on school parties.

It does sound like they are strongly suggesting, however, that parents make healthier options available and schools consider consolidating birthday parties to one per month.

The Pennsylvania Board of Education expects to vote on the new guidelines this spring. Again, these are just guidelines - not a legislative order.

Palin does raise a broader issue. Obesity is one of this country's biggest health problems, but legislation comes with a price. In August, the U.S. Senate passed legislation expanding children's access to more nutritious meals at a cost estimated at $4.5-billion.

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Information from the Morning Call used in this report

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sarah palin, tea party, bucks county, pennsylvania, inside politics
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