A member of the Intervale Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association says he believes New Jersey law does allow PTA ice cream fundraisers in state public schools.
Andrew Sadowski, a local father, said he takes issue with the recent announcement that ice cream sales in district schools is against state law.
The concerned father told Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz that federal law says fundraising sales involving food products can take place during school hours as long as the food being sold meets government nutrition standards. Many ice cream products do meet those standards, he said.
But Seitz explained that whatever the federal code says, state law specifically forbids food items to be sold in schools while the school nutrition program is in operation—in other words, during breakfast or lunch hours.
The superintendent added that state law mandates that money made from any food sales must go to the nutrition program and that PTAs may not sell food items during school hours.
Until recently, local PTAs traditionally sold ice cream once a week in school cafeterias to raise funds for student activities.
"I have in fact reviewed both the federal regulation as well as the New Jersey Administrative Code that you have provided and still do not see where the state code has a specific ban on selling ice cream," he wrote in a letter to Seitz.
Sadowski cited questions and answers he found on the New Jersey School Wellness Nutritional Policy.
Q: Can elementary schools sell ice cream products?
A: Yes, but 100 percent of all ice cream products must meet the standards.
"The only reference to foods that can not be sold lists items that are of minimal value," he wrote. "The state provides a list of those foods and nowhere is ice cream ever mentioned."
Sadowski said the ban could mean the loss of some student activities, as PTA fundraisers make them possible. He said district PTAs as a whole stand to lose about $20,000 if the prohibition continues.
Seitz said that while he agrees that the laws are "too restrictive," he said the district has no choice but comply with directives of the federal and state governments.