Food Freedom

College Campus Food Policy Restricts Bake Sale Fundraisers

Campus food police are making inroads all over America


Last month, it was reported that the State University of New York at Binghamton (often referred to as Binghamton University or SUNY Binghamton) implemented its first schoolwide food policy. According to the B.U. Pipe Dream, a student paper, the policy, which was developed with input from student groups and university officials and put in place before students returned for the fall semester, is intended "to guarantee that food on campus will be served safely."

At first glance, that sounds fine. Good, even. But the devil is in the details.

The Pipe Dream reported that the policy "requires student organizations tabling on campus to only offer pre-packaged and low-risk food items." The policy also covers both food that's to be sold and food given away free of charge. Penalties for violations of the food policy can be severe, and may "include[e] suspension or expulsion from the University."

Supporters had predicted the policy would go almost unnoticed. But student groups on campus that rely on bake sales to raise money are now complaining loudly that they've been forced "to react and rethink their fundraising options."

"We are celebrating our 50th year, and this year was pivotal for us because we wanted to do a lot more in terms of fundraising," Jahmal Ojeda, president of the Latin American Student Union, told the Pipe Dream earlier this month. "I feel like this new food policy is setting us back."

What problem or problems, if any, was the new policy intended to address?

"[S]tudents had no reference as to what they can and can't prepare on campus for others," senior Paul Zakrepine, co-president of the Student Culinary Council, told the Pipe Dream. "This, in turn, led to unsafe food-handling practices that put others at risk for contracting a foodborne illness." 

The new policy, which actually appears to focus far more on who handles food than it does on how food is handled, does include some exceptions. But they don't exactly swallow the rule.

For a student group to obtain a waiver to sell some cookies on campus requires a willingness on the part of students to wade through a good deal of red tape.

"[We're] known for our fried Oreo sales, which we sell when we table," Alexa Macleod, a senior and member of a multicultural group on campus, told the Pipe Dream. "Instead, now we are doing a raffle, which will try to supplement not being able to do these Oreo sales anymore. We are going to try to do a waiver."

If her group can't obtain that waiver, Macleod tells the paper they will be forced to sell prepackaged food instead—a prospect that doesn't make her enthusiastic. "I'm not going to buy a bag of chips on campus if I could just buy a bag of chips at the grocery store," Macleod says.

A university official defends the move.

"The new policy may be causing campus groups to think differently about fundraising opportunities, which could result in favorable outcomes for groups," Deanne Ellison, director of Auxiliary Services, told me this week. "What you refer to as a 'controversy,' I would consider healthy and constructive channels of communication." 

To be fair, Binghamton University's school food policy doesn't appear to be an extreme outlier. For example, Michigan Tech's food policy mandates that "only food prepared by the Memorial Union or Residential Services shall be permitted to be distributed or sold on campus." The University of Kansas's food policy declares that all "food/snacks sold or given away on campus must be obtained through and/or prepared by KU Dining Services, the University's licensed, health-inspected facilities[,] or by the licensed caterers and concessionaires contracted by Kansas Athletics." The KU policy also goes into tedious detail over the types of potluck meals that may be served on campus.

Still, the debate over Binghamton University's food policy illustrates a larger point I've made many times: food safety rules are often at odds with food choices—particularly locally produced ones.

As I detailed in a 2015 column, advocates for locally produced food and advocates for stricter food safety regulations may appear from afar to be playing together happily in the same sandbox. But a closer look reveals they're really fighting over what to do with the same toy.

"Disconnect between staunch supporters of rigid, process-oriented food safety regulations and advocates for local food is palpable," I wrote. "Their goals are simply at loggerheads."

The local-food advocates are the ones who stop at kids' lemonade stands. The food-safety fanatics are the ones who want to shut them down. (My recent book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable, is chock full of examples like these.)

Ultimately, the Binghamton University policy doesn't ban any student group from selling homemade food at a bake sale on campus. Rather, it bans some foods and discourages students from selling any homemade foods at all by erecting a series of irritating and time-sensitive hoops through which students must jump before they may do so.

Last year, the Binghamton University Food Sustainability Group, a student group at the university, hosted a vegan buffet around the Thanksgiving holiday. Will that group be able to hold that same meal celebration this year? I reached out to the group through its Facebook page this week but did not hear back. They're busy at work, I suspect, on a waiver request.


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  1. Treating young adults like children always works out so well. I ask, if children can run ‘climate change ‘ policy why can’t young adults decide what foods to sell and eat?

  2. When did ‘table’ become a verb?

    1. Parliamentary meaning

      You will object that is not how she used it. That proves you understood her meaning, and it was therefore just fine.

    2. Way back. Mencken commented on that in The American Language, but the context was the doings of politicians–the people who ban hashish brownies as Assassins of Youth. In the instant case an anonymous phone call hinting at possible maybe pot brownies being settled science would suffice to give school officials brownouts from fear.

  3. Nanny station at its finest. Had nothing to do with health or well being, just a few freaks who want control over everything.

    1. Follow the money.

  4. OT, but the straw grasping is getting ridiculous:

    “Climate Risk in the Housing Market Has Echoes of Subprime Crisis, Study Finds”
    “WASHINGTON — Banks are shielding themselves from climate change at taxpayers’ expense by shifting riskier mortgages — such as those in coastal areas — off their books and over to the federal government, new research suggests.
    The findings echo the subprime lending crisis of 2008, when unexpected drops in home values cascaded through the economy and triggered recession. One difference this time is that those values would be less likely to rebound, because many of the homes literally would be underwater….”

    According to the current data, the sea level is rising 3mm/year. A 10′ rise will take ~1,000 years.
    Gonna take a whole lot of re-fis before that’s an issue.
    “NYT – All the fake news fit to print!”

    1. And if they truly mean “literally underwater”, that implies the water rose from nowhere near to flood stage in the lifespan of one mortgage. They really have been drinking the koolaid.

    2. “WASHINGTON — Banks are shielding themselves from climate change at taxpayers’ expense by shifting riskier mortgages — such as those in coastal areas — off their books and over to the federal government, new research suggests.”

      Sounds to me like they’re probably reacting to hurricane risk, and if we dug deep enough, I suspect we’d find some sort of FEMA type flood insurance, perverse incentive created by government to explain it.

      1. This line, especially, rings solid: “off their books and over to the federal government”.

        NEW research suggests that companies will dump their risk onto the government if the government is willing to take their risk on at the expense of taxpayers?

        Eureka, “Researchers” have discovered this “new” thing called “moral hazard”!

        If there’s anything “new” about it, it’s using the excuse of global warming. Hey, if we get some researchers to tell the government that hurricanes are getting worse because of global warming, we can underwrite homes that have been wiped out repeatedly by hurricanes–and let the government take on all the risk!

        And best of all, the science is settled!

        1. The whole thing smells of a story assignment: ‘You get climate change for the Friday edition – find some financial angle’

        2. I ignore almost every climate warning [sic] story I see, since the few I do read are nothing but scare stories regurgitated with fresh exaggeration replacing any actual analysis or thought. You may be right about the hurricane flood insurance angle. It would be par for the course.

        3. Who would ever have guessed that businesses seek to externalize costs and internalize gains!!! Thank god we have intrepid researchers and journalists to discover these things!

    3. I don’t understand. Al Gore assured all of us that Miami Beach would be under 3 feet of water by 2015.

    4. If they don’t grasp as many straws as possible, the ocean will be filled with them and the sea level will rise even more!

  5. “The Pipe Dream reported that the policy “requires student organizations tabling on campus to only offer pre-packaged and low-risk food items.”

    Does it or doesn’t it prohibit pizza?

    1. Depends on the type of pizza. Offering deep-dish at SUNY Binghamton might be nearly as high-risk as a Chik-fil-A sandwich.

    2. Hopefully it only prohibits vegan pizza and/or cauliflower crust.

  6. Last year, the Binghamton University Food Sustainability Group, a student group at the university, hosted a vegan buffet around the Thanksgiving holiday. Will that group be able to hold that same meal celebration this year?

    We all know the answer to that – it depends on whether or not the gods of the permission slip are propitiated by the supplications of the applicants. Forelocks must be tugged, knees must be bended, gazes must be averted, pleadings must be humble, grovelings must be unctuous, etc.

    Which is the whole point of the rules.

    1. I think it will depend on how woke the food to be offered is. Vegan dinners? Ten second pause: Of course, here’s your permission. Cupcakes? Very very bad. No cupcakes for you. Followed by having to watch a 4 hour Michelle O video on nutritious eating.

  7. “A federal judge in California blocked the Trump administration from carrying out plans to detain immigrant families indefinitely while their requests for asylum are pending.

    . . . .

    Judge Gee, an Obama appointee, said she struck down the new plan because it didn’t meet a provision called the Flores agreement that prohibits the U.S. from detaining children in immigration jails. The government may detain children who arrive with their parents for up to 20 days in unlicensed facilities. These proscriptions are one of the issues that led the Trump administration to separate families last year as it sought to criminally prosecute and jail parents for crossing the border illegally.

    Families who cross into the U.S. illegally and request asylum must wait for immigration court hearings, which can take years to complete. There are more than one million cases pending.

    —-WSJ, September 28, 2019

    Notice, when they mention there are one million cases pending, we’re not even talking about “affirmative” cases, where they walk up to a border checkpoint and request asylum. Rather, there are one million defensive cases pending, in which the illegal aliens were caught crossing the border illegally and only claim asylum as a defense against deportation.

    As I’ve broken down so many times before, very few of these cases end up with a judge granting someone asylum. Won’t someone think of the legitimate asylum seekers?

    Before DACA, there used to be less than 1,500 asylum claim a year heard by the immigration courts from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras combined. This suggests that in the midst of all those million backlog cases, that have built up over the years since DACA, there may be as many as 1,500 per year baseline that should be considered legitimate from those three countries.

    Of all the victims of the current asylum process, the most victimized of all may be asylum seekers who are fleeing legitimate persecution, and the people who are victimizing them are the other one million bogus asylum seekers who are only coming here to take advantage of Obama’s unconstitutional executive order.

    In October, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case in which Trump’s rescinding of Obama’s DACA executive order is being challenged as unconstitutional. Everyone to the right of Shika Dalmia (including Shika Dalmia) expects to see the Trump administration win that case. Once that ruling is announced circa mid-2020, expect to see a whole hell of a big reduction in new asylum seekers flooding to the border.

    Unfortunately, those million cases will still need to be worked through, those million illegal aliens will still need to be deported, and legitimate asylum seekers will find it more difficult to win asylum for the foreseeable future–and it wouldn’t be wrong to blame DACA and the bogus asylum seeking opportunists for that.

  8. New York City is leading the fight against Drumpf’s alt-right white nationalist agenda.

    BREAKING: New York City has made it illegal to threaten to call ICE based on a discriminatory motive or to tell someone “go back to your country.” Hate has no place here.

    As a left-libertarian open borders advocate, I absolutely support banning the sentence “Go back to your country.” When Democrats regain total control of the federal government by 2021, hopefully they can ban those vile words nationwide.


    1. Who knew that repealing the First Amendment was as easy as passing a city ordinance? It’s amazing that no one ever thought of this before!

      Because one party governments at the local level have no one substantial to demonize in local elections, they use national figures to demonize and make national issues seem like local issues.

      This was true even before Trump. Fellow Californians send Democrats to Sacramento and put them on the city council because of stupid shit Republicans elsewhere in the country say about “legitimate rape”.

      What else are local Democrats going to do? Fix the problems that are driving people out of their cities and state like it’s the 1970s all over again?

      1. Well, New York repealed 2A with a simple city ordnance, so why not?

        1. Brilliant!

          Let’s expunge the Commerce Clause!

    2. Well, someone watched the latest South Park episode and noticed all the Jews in NYC.

      1. Ugh, South Park? I tried watching that show once. It’s just not funny. Family Guy is way better and has smarter writing.


        1. Haven’t seen The Orville, I presume.

          1. Yeah, what a disappointing show. Very little comedy or even humor. The science isn’t even as good as the original Star Trek. Pretty pointless. Watered down pale imitation with no fun.

            1. The first season appeared to be a semi-satire in which the entire point was for Seth MacFarlane to get the chance to work with all of the hot actresses that he had a thing for when he was young. And all of the cool dudes from his youth.

              Basically, as a personal vanity project where he gets to meet and work with all of the people he ever wanted to meet and work with.

              Which I can totally understand.

      2. Has modern South Park become as edgy as the modern Simpsons?

  9. As crazy as these policies are, most of them are NOT nanny policies. They’re turf protection policies.

    Colleges and universities outsource their food services. The people working in the cafeteria do not work for the college. They work for the contracted food service. Food services will give the college a better price if they can have exclusive rights to provide food on campus. Then they make up for the low cafeteria profits by jacking up the prices for everything else.

    The first crack-downs were for meetings on campus. Departments used to have pizza or subs delivered for long meetings. Now they have to order from the campus provider where the prices are much higher and there are minimum order quantities. The college honchos don’t care because these $$ come from the department’s budget and the honchos are still getting a good price for the cafeteria.

    This new crack-down is on student organizations. If the XZY club sets up a cookie sale it will cut into the sales of over-priced items in the campus grab-n-go store. This is the same provider as the cafeteria but grab-n-go $$ come from the pockets of the students instead of the college honchos.

    The College might wrap the policy in “safety” arguments to make it look better but it’s not about safety at all. It’s about money.

    1. Same thing I noted in the Brickbat story about the pre-school fruit stand being shut down – probably just a coincidence that this operation is right up the road from the Atlanta Farmers Market. Follow the money.

      But I still wouldn’t discount the well-known aphrodisiacal effect of wielding power – sex is as powerful a motive as money and the thrill of fucking somebody over might be as good an explanation.

    2. “As crazy as these policies are, most of them are NOT nanny policies. They’re turf protection policies.”

      Why then:
      “The Pipe Dream reported that the policy “requires student organizations tabling on campus to only offer pre-packaged and low-risk food items.””

      1. I said “most”, not “all” and you’ve cited one out of three examples in the article. The Michigan Tech policy restricts where food must be prepared. It’s not clear who controls access to those locations but I would guess that it’s the campus food provider. The Kansas policy is more overt, it bluntly says that all food must come from campus “Dining Services”.

        That leaves SUNY-Bing’s policy. It might actually be nanny-motivated instead of money-motivated. Still, I’d like to know if student groups can buy pre-packaged items anywhere of if they have to buy them on campus.

        1. They are intersectional – nanny AND turf protecting.

          1. LOL. Unfortunately, this is probably true so it maybe it’s not really funny.

      2. Because they know that no one is going to buy store-bought items from a bake sale.

  10. Treating young adults like children always works out so well. I ask, if children can run ‘climate change ‘ policy why can’t young adults decide what foods to sell and eat? Regards

  11. If schools think college kids are too stupid to eat, why do we let these dolts VOTE?

  12. Remember this bumper sticker?

    It Will Be a Great Day When Our Schools Get All the Money They Need and the Air Force Has to Hold a Bake Sale to Buy a Bomber

    Guess someone saw one of those and said, “Wait, they’re selling food at schools? That’s dangerous! Quick! To the Bureaucratmobile! “

    1. It Will Be a Great Day We will all be speaking Chinese When Our Schools Get All the Money They Need and the Air Force Has to Hold a Bake Sale to Buy a Bomber

      1. Nonsense, our Chicom overseers will know enough English to give the simple commands our simple minds require, like “move the box of radioactive waste over there, slave.”

  13. So I guess affirmative-action bake sales are out of the question?

    1. Brownies are ok, just no white milk!

    2. Bake sales and pot lucks do tend to be a morass of cultural appropriation. They should be doing genetic testing to determine who is permitted to sell what.

  14. Food safety is how white supremacy works. AOC told me so.

  15. Student Culinary Council?

  16. I would say overall that this is a pretty stupid thing to do.
    Unless, of course, the college is planning on opening a bakery in the student union.
    Then they’re just being smart. You can’t be having black market cup cakes floating around campus.

  17. No bake sales? That’s OK, they can hold a bachelor auction with me as the prize. Come on, ladies, make your bids.

    1. One dollar and you don’t turn around or speak.

      1. You’re no lady!

        1. It’s college so all he has to do is identify as one.
          If you don’t do it then you’re a bigot.

          1. He can identify as a *woman,* but he can’t make himself a *lady.*

            1. He can demand you use “lady” as his pronoun.

  18. There is so much stupid shit going on at colleges these days it makes me glad I graduated decades ago.

    1. It makes me glad I dropped out of high school to get pregnant.

      It’s my right as a man.

    2. In those days doing stupid shit was clearly assigned to the fraternities and sororities.

  19. Fried Oreos are a real thing?

    Ok I have one more thing on the list.

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  21. Freedom means drilling for oil wherever it be found and policing the random bylaws of college freshmen.

    College students. Just because they’re an easy target doesn’t mean they don’t hate freedom.

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  23. the B.U. Pipe Dream, a student paper, … reported that the policy “requires student organizations tabling on campus to only offer pre-packaged and low-risk food items.”

    That’s outrageous! A student paper is permitted to be named the *Pipe Dream*?!

  24. What I fear these students will not learn, is that the problem wasn’t the lack of the right people in power, but the fact that people are in power in the first place. Schools and voluntary institutions have been having bake sales for over a century now. We don’t need fucking food czars presiding over bake sales.

  25. Its really very simple when it come to bake sales on all American re-education camps.

    Bake sales for conservative causes: Evil and not tolerated.
    Bake sales for liberal causes: Wonderful and accepted.

    Isn’t repression wonderful?

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