New Rules Aim To Rid Schools Of Junk Foods1

Schools across the United States will get a face-lift when it comes to their vending machine selections. When a kid is having a snack attack they won’t be able to find things like high-calorie sports drinks and candy bars. Gone are the days of Flaming Hot Cheetos.  Those items will be replaced with diet drinks, granola bars and other healthier items.

Diet though? How about plain ole water.

The Agriculture Department said Thursday that for the first time it will make sure that all foods sold in the nation’s 100,000 schools are healthier by expanding fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits to almost everything sold during the school day. Not only will this affect vending machine choices but as well as foods from the “a la carte” lines and bake sales.

The Associated Press reports that one of the biggest changes under the rules will be a near-ban on high-calorie sports drinks, which many beverage companies added to school vending machines to replace high-calorie sodas that they pulled in response to criticism from the public health community. Under the new rule, sodas and sports drink under 60 calories or less in a 12 ounce serving would be allowed in high schools. Elementary and middle schools could sell only water, carbonated water, 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, and low fat and fat-free milk, including nonfat flavored milks.

Some schools in the U.S. have already adjusted their menus, but not everyone has been an advocate.

From Yahoo News:

Sandra Ford, president of the School Nutrition Association and director of food and nutrition services for a school district in Bradenton, Fla., said in prepared testimony that the healthier foods have been expensive and participation has declined since the standards went into effect. She also predicted that her school district could lose $975,000 a year under the new “a la carte” guidelines because they would have to eliminate many of the foods they currently sell.

“The new meal pattern requirements have significantly increased the expense of preparing school meals, at a time when food costs were already on the rise,” she said.

Ford called on the USDA to permanently do away with the limits on grains and proteins, saying they hampered her school district’s ability to serve sandwiches and salads with chicken on top that had proved popular with students.

The Government Accountability Office said it visited eight districts around the country and found that in most districts students were having trouble adjusting to some of the new foods, leading to increased food waste and decreased participation in the school lunch program.

One advocate in healthier eating in schools has always been Michelle Obama. She believes parents can’t always police what their children consume when they’re in school, so healthier options should be mandatory.

“That’s why as a mom myself, I am so excited that schools will now be offering healthier choices to students and reinforcing the work we do at home to help our kids stay healthy,” Mrs. Obama said in a statement.


What do you think about the new regulations? 

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  • SE

    I think this is a good thing. There should be more healthier choices to choose from.

  • kissofdanger

    Big daddy gov’t is watching you. I think this is going a bit too far. Low fat milk. Sugarfree anything gives me migraines and cluster headaches. So I can imagine poor kids with varying tolerances having to put up with this crap. I can understand removing carbonated drinks, and drinks that are too sugary. However these rules seem to get rid of real foods that never used to make us fat. How about cutting down on bread? How about beefing up the protien with light and dark meat chicken? Our school lunches are bought out by corporations who will just find another way to market their food. I’m sick of real foods our ancestors never had a problem with being banned. The real problems, is the chemicals in the food, the hormones, and the lack of satisfying tasty food that wont make you hungry and hour later. Don’t get me started on how they cut recess when I was a kid. They cut field day, and gym too. How the hell is that helping?

    • dbsm

      they are cutting gym some more where i live. from one whole school year to one semester.

  • K

    they have already banned gatorade at the school i work at. i see this as a good thing, we dont have vending machines so idk how much that effect has on other these are publicly funded institutions i see no problem with them deciding how to utilize funds ESPECIALLY if its for healthier product. I dont know if diet drinks are good but its a start, hell anything is better. seriously the school i work just this week the kids had some type of cookie/crackers for breakfast and juice i was like huh? yall have cookies for breakfast. they also have pizza as an option for breakfast, most throw the milk in the trash w/o even opening it. Id love to see more whole grains for breakfast, they already serve fruit and perhaps almond or soy milk or vanilla milk something wehre they will actually drink the milk

  • mEE

    I thought this was already happening. I teach at a Title 1 school in the South Bronx (aka “high need” aka “economically disadvantaged” aka “broke”) and our vending machines don’t have no much as a cookie in it. the only juice they have has such reduced sugar it’s basically water and all the snacks are baked or they’re actually healthy like trail mix.
    additionally for lunch and breakfast we only serve lowfat or fat free milk. there’s meals are equally balanced between carbs, proteins, and veggies. we have whole wheat/whole grain everything. there’s even a daily salad station with lowfat dressing.
    I just figured if my school that can barely afford textbooks was doing it, then everyone would be.

  • Mademoiselle

    I really wish vending machines would be banned from grade schools. In addition to promoting unhealthy snacking (unnecessarily keeping food in their mouths at all times), it promotes consumerism. Kids are wasting money on unnecessary purchases and getting fat in the process so the likes of Coca Cola, Nestle, et al can hedge their profit margins. I hate it when corporations and public services go in cahoots to swindle residents. Thank God they don’t allow retailers to sell clothes, shoes, and backpacks on school premises. Kids would have no chance of starting life above the poverty line.