A New Rule For Snack Foods In SchoolsMon 11 Mar 2013
Story by The Food Revolution Team
Act Now! Competitive Food Rule
The presence of vending machines in middle schools has more than doubled since the 1990’s and reports show that unhealthy snack foods are available to buy at nearly half of the nation’s elementary schools. To voice your support for these important nutritional updates, click here!
Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past three decades. Despite recent improvements to nutritional standards for school meals, the snack foods and beverages available to students are still largely unhealthy, including items such as sugary drinks, chips and candy.
Long overdue nutritional standards for all foods sold at school were released early in February. These proposed regulations, which are the first updates in 30 years, will establish national nutritional standards for all foods sold on the school campus (including à la carte lines, school stores, snack bars and vending machines) that are available throughout the school day and apply to all age groups. These standards complement the USDA’s standards for school meals which took effect this year and are the minimum standards that local educational authorities, school food authorities and school districts will be required to meet.
Schools should be at the heart of food education in tackling eating habits and the obesity epidemic. It is time that ALL foods sold and served in schools are healthy for kids. Watch this live video with school food experts explaining exactly why this rule is so important.
How YOU Can Comment
Around 40% of students buy a snack at school every day, but you can help make sure the USDA takes real action to improve the nutritional standards of these snacks. The comment period for this rule is open until 9 April – if you care about the food available in schools, it’s really important that you show your support for these updated regulations. You can do so by clicking here.
While the rule is a positive step and will make a huge difference, we still think certain parts can be strengthened. If you agree, go to this action alert and let the USDA know that:
• I support the promotion of healthy foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, and I also support limiting calories, fat, sugar, and sodium in snack foods and beverages.
• I urge USDA to ensure that all foods meet these standards, including items sold in à la carte lines, regardless of whether they’re sold in a regular school meal. We don’t want loopholes to allow our kids to eat pizza and french fries every day.
• Calorie requirements change as children grow – that’s why I would support a lower calorie limit on snacks sold in elementary schools, just as there are fewer calories in their school meals.
• I agree that it is reasonable to offer some flexibility in beverage choices in high school, but I am also concerned that sugary drinks are far less healthy than other options. Therefore, calorie limits on drinks, excluding milk and juice should be as close to zero as possible.
If you think that the regulations should be stronger then let the USDA know. And if, like us, you believe that sugar-sweetened beverages have no place in schools, then make this clear too.
We believe that schools should ban sugary drinks, including flavoured milk, as a strategy to reduce over-consumption of added sugar, improve children’s health and teach them how they should be eating. Milk is a great source of nutrients for kids, but the flavoured varieties are high in calories, highly processed and contain unnecessary added sugars, artificial flavours and colours that don’t add any nutritional value to children’s diets. Additionally, drinking just one 8oz sugary drink every day – such as Coca-Cola, Mountain Dew or other fizzy sodas - increases a child’s chances of becoming obese by 60% (1). Making sugar-sweetened drinks available in schools gives children the message that processed, sugar-laden beverages are acceptable to drink on a regular basis.
Let’s make sure that all the choices kids have at school are healthy, wholesome and nutritious. Head over to http://ow.ly/iwuBd to show the USDA that you support these important nutritional standards updates in schools by submitting a comment today.
Find out what the existing guidelines are and what regulations are already in place in some states here.
The Food Revolution Team
1. 4. Ludwig DS, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. (2001). Relation between consumption of sugar sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: A prospective, observational analysis, Lancet, 357(9255), 505-508.
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