Federal government to regulate school snacks
By MICHELLE CONERLY
Kent Reporter Reporter, Schools, Education, Sports
March 7, 2013 · 10:50 AM
In concordance with the Heathy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed a new rule that would regulate snacks sold outside of regular school meal programs.
The "Nutrition Standards for all Foods Sold in School" proposed rule would affect school stores, a la carte options, and vending machines in almost 90,000 public schools across the nation, including those in the Kent School District.
The public comment period for the rule began in February and extends until April 19. No sooner than a year after this period would the changes begin and an "implementing rule" published, giving schools times to adapt.
This is the first federal effort of its kind to regulate school snacks. The rule would be enforced during school hours defined from midnight to 30 minutes after school ends. Snacks sold during non-school hours, like concessions at sporting events, would not be regulated.
"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 Agriculture Secretary Tam Vilsack. "Good nutrition lays the groundwork for good health and academic success. Providing healthy options throughout the 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."
Minimum standards would be set for total fat, sodium, sugar, etc. in snacks sold. Portion sizes of milk and juice would depend on the age of the students. For example, older students in middle school would be allowed to consume 12-ounce portions of those beverages as opposed to 8-ounce portions available for elementary school kids.
All beverages sold at the elementary and middle school levels would be caffeine free. High schools would be allowed to sell diet sodas and sports drinks that adhere to certain caloric standards. Also, the availability of drinking water would be required during all normal school meal hours free of charge.
Although a date of implementation is not set, the changes "shall take effect at the beginning of the school year that is not earlier than one year and not later than two years following the date on which the regulations are finalized" states a memorandum written by the OFW law firm.
Tom Ogg, supervisor of nutrition services for the Kent School District, said after the standards are finalized, the next step for the Kent School District would be to have its wellness committee update the district wellness policy to align with the changes.Contact Kent Reporter Reporter, Schools, Education, Sports Michelle Conerly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-872-6600, ext. 5056.