"Smart Snacks in School" Proposal
In February 2013, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed new national standards to provide healthy food options in school vending machines, a la carte lines and snack bars. Part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act passed in 2010, “Smart Snacks in School” follows recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and incorporates healthy food and drink options that are already offered in many schools around the country.
Under the new proposal, low-sugar, low-fat options like dried fruit, granola, yogurt and baked, whole-grain snacks that are under 200 calories will replace foods that are high in sugar, fat or calories, and water, 100 percent juice and low-fat milk will replace sugary, high-calorie drinks. Along with school lunch and breakfast programs, these new standards will help promote good nutrition by ensuring that children have access to healthy food options throughout the school day.
The USDA's Food and Nutrition Service oversees the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs and the Summer Food Service Program. The goals of these programs are to eliminate child hunger, reduce childhood obesity and improve health and nutrition for all children in the United States.
Primary components of the "Smart Snacks in School" proposal include:
- Ensure that that school vending machines, al la cart lines and snack bars provide healthy snacks made from whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables and lean protein sources that are lower in fat, sugar and sodium and higher in nutrients
- Allow flexibility for different age groups (larger portion sizes for older children) and important traditionsparents may continue to provide bagged lunches and snacks of their choosing and treats for birthdays and holiday celebrations, and schools and school groups may hold occasional fundraisers like candy drives and bake sales
- Reasonable limitationsfor example, to allow snacks sold after school hours at activities like sporting events to be exempt from the nutrition standards
- Establish minimum national standards to allow local school districts or states to develop or maintain stricter standards
- Provide a significant transition period of at least 1 year for schools and vendors to adapt to the new standards
Source: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)