Roughly 40 percent of students buy a snack at school each day. Even if students eat a healthy lunch, research shows they often still consume excess calories from side dishes their cafeteria might serve, such as french fries.
Right now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering updated nutritional guidelines that would make sure schools sell healthy snacks and drinks to students. But we only have until April 9 to weigh in!
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 are still largely unhealthy items like sugary drinks, chips, and candy. It is time that ALL foods sold 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 non-fat and low-fat dairy products, as well as 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 in the cafeteria à la carte line. We don’t want our kids having pizza and fries for lunch every day.
• Calorie needs 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 support allowing only drinks with fewer than 40 calories per container to be sold throughout the school day.
Thank you again for your proposed updates to the nutrition standards for school snacks and beverages. I hope we can end up with a strong final standard, because only then can we be sure we are doing our best to provide our children with a healthy future.