For the first time in more than 30 years, the U.S Department of Agriculture is updating nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages sold in schools. This proposed rule complements USDA’s standards for school meals, which took effect this school year.
We need your help to make sure USDA takes real action to improve the foods and beverages that students can buy every day.
These proposed guidelines could make a major difference to children’s health. They would ensure that when kids make choices about snacks and drinks, the options they see are healthy ones, whether sold as a la carte items in the cafeteria, in vending machines, or in school stores. These items are a big part of what our young people eat—roughly 40 percent of students buy a snack at school every day.
Help make sure all the choices kids have are healthy ones.
Even if students eat a healthy lunch, research shows they often still consume excess calories from additional a la carte items the cafeteria might serve, such as french fries or ice cream. Sometimes kids skip a nutritious meal entirely in favor of less-healthy snacks.
Show your support for healthy snacks and drinks in schools. Submit a comment to USDA today!
Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past three decades. Despite recent improvements to nutrition standards for school meals, the snack foods and beverages available to students tend to be less-healthy items such as sugary drinks, salty snacks, and candy. It is time that ALL foods sold and served in schools are healthy for kids.
As USDA works to finalize the updated standards, I wanted to share some specific feedback:
• I support promoting healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nonfat and low-fat dairy products, and I also support limiting calories, fat, sugar, and sodium in snack foods and beverages.
• I urge USDA to ensure that all foods meet these standards, including items sold a la carte in the cafeteria, regardless of whether they are sold in a regular school meal. We don’t want loopholes to allow our kids to eat pizza and french fries every day.
• Calorie requirements change as children grow. That’s why I would support a lower calorie limit on snacks sold in elementary schools, just as there are fewer calories in their school meals.
• I agree that it is reasonable to offer some flexibility in beverage choices in high school, but I am also concerned that sugary drinks are far less healthy than other options. Thus, calorie limits on drinks other than milk and juice should be as close to zero as possible.
Thank you again for your proposed updates to the nutrition standards for school snacks and beverages. I hope we end up with a set of strong guidelines, because only then can we be sure that we are doing our best to provide our children with a healthy future.