Do your kids pick smart snacks in school?
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires USDA to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools. However, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that current federal regulations for competitive foods (snack type food sold outside meal programs) only prohibit the sale of “foods of minimal nutritional value (FMNV) during meal periods in the food service area, where reimbursable school meals are sold or eaten”.
At this time, no federal regulations exist for other competitive foods that are not specifically identified as FMNV says the CDC.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) points out that limiting foods of minimal nutritional value like seltzer water, hard candy, and ice pops, does not limit choices like candy bars, snack cakes, and sports drinks.
"Getting sugary drinks and junk food out of school vending machines, a la carte lines in cafeterias, and school stores is much needed given the high rates of childhood obesity and children's poor diets.“, says Margo G. Wootan, Nutrition Policy Director, CSPI.
She adds, “Under USDA's proposed nutrition standards, parents will no longer have to worry that their kids are using their lunch money to buy junk food at school. Combined with the improvements in school lunches that schools began implementing this school year, at long last, all foods and beverages sold in schools will need to meet healthy nutrition standards.”
The updated standards proposed by USDA will better address obesity and dietary problems, like saturated and trans fats, salt, and sugars, says the CSPI.
“Two-thirds of elementary school students and almost all high school students can buy foods and beverages outside of the meal programs in schools. Studies show that unhealthy snacks and drinks sold in schools undermine children’s diets and increase their weights.”, says Wootan.
The CDC says states and local education agencies can set their own nutrition standards for competitive foods in schools. Their recent report analyzing state policies for food and beverages served outside the school lunch line noted 39 states already have a law, regulation or policy related to the sale or availability of snack foods and beverages in schools. In many cases local city level policies even exceed state requirements.
The public will be able to provide feedback through www.regulations.gov for 60 days.
First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Initiative