USDA proposes school snack guidelines

February 1, 2013

According to Reuters, snacks sold in U.S. schools would need to be lower in fat, salt, and sugar and include more nutritious items like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, under new potential standards released on Feb. 1, by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA).

The proposal, more than a year overdue, also calls for the nation’s public schools to ensure individual food and drink items sold in vending machines and other venues during the school day be 200 calories or less, USDA said. The proposed rules are the second step in a larger effort to improve the foods U.S. students have access to during the school day under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, aimed at improving childhood nutrition and combating obesity.

The rules would not cover items sold at various after-hours activities, such as sporting events. In addition, they would allow for “important traditions,” such as parents sending cookies or cupcakes to school for a child’s birthday, or “occasional fundraisers and bake sales.”

For beverages, the USDA called for schools to be able to sell water, low-fat and fat-free milk, and 100% juices, with smaller 8-oz portions created for younger students. High school students could buy 20-oz servings of various calorie-free beverages, and 12-oz servings of drinks that have less than 75 calories or less but they could not be sold during lunch or breakfast.

The public has 60 days to comment on the proposal before the USDA issues any final ruling. The USDA said schools will have at least one full school year after the final rule is issued to implement the changes.

Reuters article

USDA press release