After-school jobs are tougher to keep, apparently, than they used to be.
On Sunday, a Belleville News-Democrat story featured 11-year-old Chloe Stirling of Troy, Ill., a sixth-grader at Triad Middle School who makes about $200 a month selling cupcakes.
On Monday, the long arm of the law — in this case, the Madison County Health Department — put an end to that.
“They called and said they were shutting us down,” Chloe’s mother, Heather Stirling, told the Post-Dispatch.
Furthermore, Heather Stirling said the officials told her that for Chloe to continue selling cupcakes, the family would have to “buy a bakery or build her a kitchen separate from the one we have.”
“Obviously, we can’t do that,” Heather Stirling said. “We’ve already given her a little refrigerator to keep her things in, and her grandparents bought her a stand mixer.”
Heather Stirling said she wasn’t looking for special consideration for her daughter and would be willing to get the necessary licenses and permits to run a business.
"But a separate kitchen? Who can do that?” Heather Stirling said.
Amy Yeager, a health department spokeswoman, said the county was only applying the law governing all food-selling businesses.
"The rules are the rules. It’s for the protection of the public health,” Yeager said. “The guidelines apply to everyone.”
When asked if she was aware of how shutting down an 11-year-old girl’s business would appear to the general public, Yeager replied, “People will react how they choose to react. But it is our job.”
The only positive Heather Stirling can see is that it may save her some money.
"I promised Chloe when she started that I’d match her dollar-for-dollar on what she earned,” she said. “She’s saving up for a car.”
"Joe's St. Louis" appears online Monday-Friday and in print on Saturday. Holleman's "Life Sherpa" column appears in the Everyday section of the Sunday newspaper. On Fridays, he is a guest at 11:10 a.m. on KTRS-AM "The Big 550." You also can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.