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'Cupcake bill' gathering support

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By Beth Christian Broschart
The Inter-Mountain

CHARLESTON - A bill making its way through the state Legislature might make some students and teachers want to celebrate - with something sweet and delicious like a cupcake.

In 2008, a mandate from the West Virginia State Board of Education brought strict requirements on what students could be served during rewards or celebrations in school.

Delegate Denise Campbell, D-Randolph, introduced House Bill 4307 this term, which aims "to allow students in elementary schools, once a year, to celebrate an event during which cupcakes or other refreshments such as cakes, pies or other similar desserts are served to the students by the school or parents of student at the school, without restrictions as to caloric or nutrient content, to teach balanced nutrition through moderation."

Since its introduction, the bill, known through the state as the "Cupcake Bill," has been modified to allow periodic celebrations including holidays, special events, students' accomplishments, school achievements, school awards and other events as designated by the faculty senate and approved by the school principal.

Campbell said parties need to be fun and should reward the students.

"At the last party my son went to, he was served an orange wedge, pretzel sticks and water," Campbell said. "This is not fun for kids. They deserve to have a celebration and to be able to have fun and be rewarded."

Campbell said she realizes that obesity is a problem in West Virginia.

"We need to stress moderation -not complete restriction - makes for a healthy diet," Campbell said.

She said the bill was approved unanimously by the House Education and House Health Committees. It also was approved unanimously on the House Floor and crossed over to the Senate on Wednesday.

"Only the meals served in the schools must meet federal guidelines," Campbell said of the 2008 mandate. "Care must still be given regarding known student allergies when selecting menus for celebrations."

Other sponsors of House Bill 4307 include Delegate Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur, and Delegate Mary Poling, D- Barbour.