Updating nutrition standards on snack foods and beverages

Sizing up snack foods sold in many schoolsAs parents, we try to get our kids to eat healthy food at home and when we’re out with them. However, so many kids do not have nutritious foods available at school. The majority of our nation’s secondary schools don’t sell fruits and vegetables in school stores, snack bars, or vending machines, according to a report from the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, a joint initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Research shows that the consumption of 110 to 165 calories above recommended amounts per day—roughly the difference between an apple and a bag of chips—may be responsible for rising rates of childhood obesity,” said Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project. “Because many students consume as many as half of their daily calories at school, what children eat during the school day is a critical issue if we want to reverse obesity rates.”

While many public schools implemented healthier meals this fall under the USDA’s revised meal standards, the regulations didn’t cover snack foods and beverages, making them the next frontier in ensuring students have access to healthy options in school. Luckily, the USDA is posed to issue policies requiring that foods and beverages sold outside of the federal school meals program meet minimum nutrition standards – sooner than later I hope!

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