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Schools Get Ready to Rid Themselves of Any and All Junk Food (Including the Bake Sale Variety)

Schools that participate on federal lunch and breakfast programs are preparing to completely rid themselves of all snack variety junk food this summer.

In this Dec. 23, 2013 photo, a 12-year-old girl, who declined to be identified, makes a purchase at a vending machine in Seattle. Office workers in search of snacks will be counting calories along with their change under new labeling regulations for vending machines included in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law. The Food and Drug Administration, which is expected to release final rules early next year, says requiring calorie information to be displayed on roughly 5 million vending machines nationwide will help consumers make healthier choices. (AP/Elaine Thompson) In this Dec. 23, 2013 photo, a 12-year-old girl makes a purchase at a vending machine in Seattle. Schools are getting ready to meet new guidelines that will limit fat, sodium, sugar and calories in snacks. (AP/Elaine Thompson)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Smart Snacks in School initiative goes into effect July 1. With the rule, all vending machines, a la carte lunch items, and even baked goods sold for fundraisers are banned from schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, making these programs adhere to amendments to the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. In addition to setting calorie, fat and sodium limits for snacks sold in schools, the rule requires any food sold in school to:

  • Be a “whole grain-rich” grain product; or
  • Have as the first ingredient a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product, or a protein food; or
  • Be a combination food that contains at least 1⁄4 cup of fruit and/or vegetable; or
  • Contain 10% of the Daily Value (DV) of one of the nutrients of public health concern in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (calcium, potassium, vitamin D, or dietary fiber).

The rule states that the sale of food items that meet nutrition requirements at fundraisers are not limited in any way, but special exceptions for "infrequent fundraisers that do not meet the nutrition standards" could be approved by state agencies. The requirements do not apply to food sold outside of school hours, on weekends or at off-campus fundraising.

Parents at an Indianapolis school expressed mixed feelings about the rule, which their children's schools are preparing to enact this summer.

“I think that’s great,” Betsy Hunsucker, a mother of a student attending Brownsburg schools, told WXIN-TV. “I think kids would love fruits and vegetables.”

Conversely, other parents like Vicki Masters said giving students more food choices ensures they might actually eat something during the day. "There are things they just won’t eat. They’d rather not eat than eat something they don’t like," Masters told the news station.

Watch WXIN's report:

Some companies too are readying themselves to meet school demands for healthy snacks. Fresh Healthy Vending is gearing up to replace junk food with options that adhere to the standards in vending machines in some Pittsburgh area schools.

(H/T: Reddit)


This story has been updated.


Front page image via Lissandra Melo/Shutterstock

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