Voters Want Healthy Snacks In SchoolsFri 04 May 2012
Story by The Food Revolution Team
Earlier in the year new nutritional standards were released for school meals. This means that beginning this fall, kids will have twice the amounts of fruit and vegetables, more whole grains and less sodium on their school breakfast and lunch trays. This was the first major update to happen in 15 years. Up next are snack foods and beverages, as the USDA is expected to release proposed standards for these foods within the next month or so.
These items include anything sold outside of the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs – anything that can be purchased from vending machines, schools stores, and cafeteria a la carte lines. They are often sugary drinks, salty high fat snacks, pizzas and ice cream are called ‘competitive’ foods as they compete with school meals for student’s spending.
The standards that currently apply to these foods are over 30 years old and no longer reflect current nutrition science, and despite the current obesity epidemic – snacks and beverages high in salt, fat and sugar are readily available in many schools. The availability of vending machines in middle schools has more than doubled since the 1990s and it has been reported that nearly half of the nation’s elementary school students can buy unhealthy snack foods at schools.
In preparation for the release of the proposed nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages, the Kids’ Safe & Healthful Food Project (a joint project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) recently carried out a public opinion survey of attitudes on this issue.
The results of this poll (carried out with over 1,000 voters) found that the majority of voters – 80% - favour nutrition standards that would limit calories, fat and sodium in snack and a la carte foods sold in schools and encourage the consumption of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy items.
The poll results also found that 81% of voters are concerned about childhood obesity, with more than half (54%) being very concerned. Find out more about the survey results and watch the ‘Giving Kids Healthy Food in Schools’ video here.
The anticipated standards for snack foods and beverages are expected to complement the new meal standards, and as with meal standards – once released there will be a 90 day public comment period on these standards.
As many children get the majority of their daily calories at school each day, it is vital that the food available to them is fresh, wholesome and nutrient rich. We look forward to seeing these new standards once they are released, stay tuned!
The Food Revolution Team
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