Coach fined for selling fried chicken at Houston school

8 HISD schools faced fines totaling $73,000 for breaking nutritional rules

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - High school sports are huge in Texas and so are school booster clubs, which sell snacks and treats as a quick and easy way to raise money.

However, some school districts are being fined because some of the snacks they sell have broken nutritional rules meant to combat childhood obesity.

The rules and regulations handed down by the Texas Department of Agriculture are not new, but they are now being heavily enforced.

Audits and random checks are picking up pricey violations. Although fried chicken may sound like a tasty snack, it got a Westbury High School coach in trouble when he tried to sell it on campus to raise funds for his team.

Westbury High School and Bellaire High were among the eight HISD schools who faced fines totaling $73,000 for violating Texas Department of Agriculture regulations.

Brian Giles is Senior Administrator of Food Services for HSID.

"Those guidelines include the nutrition content of the things that are sold outside the school cafeteria," said Giles. "They include the time and the place those things are sold. They also require that nutrition information is provided for those items."

Giles said in the past, fines have been relatively minor, but an audit in Dec. 2012 found violations for what's called "competitive foods," which are brought in from the outside for things like bake sales.

Food and drinks of "minimal nutritional value" are not allowed during school hours.

"I think bake sales are just to raise money," said student Ebony Murphy. "A couple of snacks aren't going to hurt anybody."

"It's really probably a lot healthier than what they're eating at home," said Sana Norris, a teacher. "I don't think the fines are correct."

Giles said it sends a message that curbing obesity is a matter of public health.

"It's critical parents and schools understand the state guidelines and know that the state is very serious in terms of enforcing those guidelines," said Giles.

The guidelines are very specific and vary depending on whether it's lower, middle or high school.

MORE: Texas Public School Nutrition Policy

The guidelines fall on each school principal's shoulders to determine what outside foods can be brought on campus.

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