The USDA introduced new rules for snack foods and beverages sold in schools that met with the approval with first lady Michelle Obama as she tried to close kids’ way of getting around the less-than-tasty lunches being foisted upon them.
“Students across the country are now getting healthier school lunches with more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy based on scientific recommendations for nutrition,” the USDA said in a release accompanying the announcement. “Yet for most teens and a growing percentage of elementary students, items offered a la carte and in vending machines still lack healthy options. Many students consume at least one snack food a day at school.”
“The new ‘Smart Snacks in School’ standards carefully balance science-based nutrition standards with practical and flexible solutions to promote healthier eating at school.”
Snacks sold in schools will now have to be whole-grain, have the first ingredient be fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein, be a combination food that contains at least 1/4 cup fruits or vegetables, or contain up to 10 percent nutritional daily values. Snacks must be under 200 calories.
Milk and juice servings are limited to 8 ounces in elementary school and 12 ounces in high school. Even diet soda will be limited. “There is no portion size limit for plain water,” the USDA generously states.
The standards allow for “infrequent” fundraisers such as bake sales and for greater food sales at sporting events outside of regular school hours.
The USDA patted itself on the back for “preserving the ability for parents to send their kids to school with homemade lunches or treats for activities such as birthday parties, holidays, and other celebrations.”
School will have a year to implement the rule.
“Many parents are working hard every day to make sure they provide healthy, balanced meals and snacks to their kids. Unfortunately, we don’t always have control over the snacks our kids have access to when they’re away from home,” Michelle Obama said. “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.”