As part of the federal government’s healthy food initiatives, the rules governing what schools could (or should) put in snack machines could be changing.
Here’s a press release we just got that describes the issue (with a little bit of editing to try to get the sense without the jargon):
The public comment period has opened on proposed new standards for snack foods.
“Parents and teachers work hard to instill healthy eating habits in our kids, and these efforts should be supported when kids walk through the schoolhouse door,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Good nutrition lays the groundwork for good health and academic success. Providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines, and snack bars will complement the gains made with the new, healthy standards for school breakfast and lunch so the healthy choice is the easy choice for our kids.”
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires the USDA to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools beyond the federally-supported school meals programs. The “Smart Snacks in School” proposed rule, to be published soon in the Federal Register, is the first step in the process to create national standards. It draws on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, voluntary standards already in place nationwide, and healthy food and beverage offeringsavailable in the marketplace.
- Promoting availability of healthy snack foods with whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables or protein foods as their main ingredients.
- Ensuring that snack food items are lower in fat, sugar, and sodium and provide more of the nutrients kids need.
- Allowing variation by age group for factors that include beverage portion size and caffeine content.
- Preserving the ability for parents to send in bagged lunches of their choosing or treats for activities such as birthday parties, holidays, and other celebrations; and allowing schools to continue traditions like occasional fundraisers and bake sales.
- Ensuring that standards only affect foods that are sold on school campus during the school day. Foods sold at an afterschool sporting event or other activity will not be subject to these requirements.
- Allowing significant local and regional autonomy by only establishing minimum requirements for schools. States and schools that have stronger standards than what is being proposed will be able to maintain their own policies.
- The standards will not go into effect until at least one full school year after public comment is considered and an implementing rule is published to ensure that schools and vendors have adequate time to adapt.
The public is encouraged to review the proposal and to provide comments and information for consideration by USDA. The text of the proposed rule is available at http://www.fns.usda.gov/cga/020113-snacks.pdf
Once the rule is published in the Federal Register, which is expected next week, the public will be able to provide feedback through www.regulations.gov
USDA will seek public comment on the proposal for 60 days. Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report that analyzed state policies for food and beverages served outside the school lunch line
Other parts of that package include updated nutrition standards