FEDERAL RESTRICTION ON SCHOOL SNACKS
What snack foods can children eat at school? The Agriculture Department has announced Thursday, June 27, 2013, that there will be restrictions on what types of snacks schools can sell. Students will no longer be able to fill up on trans fats that are found in greasy pizzas, high-fat chips and snacks, and sugars found in ice cream treats, cookies, juice drinks, high-calorie sodas, snack cakes and sports drinks, and salty pretzels or chips.
The governments new standards for healthier snack foods in schools would apply to all the “a la carte” lines in the school cafeterias, vending machines, snack bars or any other food sold at school and on the school campus grounds. It would not apply to fundraisers, after school class parties or foods brought from home to the school.
WHICH SNACKS ARE ACCEPTABLE AND WHICH ARE NOT?
According to the federal guidelines, acceptable snack items include:
- Baked potato chips
- Granola bars
- Cereal bars
- Trail mix
- Dried fruits
- Fruit cups
- Sugarless gum
- Whole grain-rich muffins
- 100 percent fruit juice drinks
- Diet soda (high schools)
- Flavored water (high schools)
- Diet sports drinks (high schools)
- Unsweetened or diet iced teas (high schools)
- Baked lower-fat french fries
- Healthier pizzas with whole grain crust
- Lean hamburgers with whole wheat buns
Snack food that are not acceptable include:
- Snack cakes
- Most cookies
- High-calorie sodas
- High-calorie sports drinks
- Juice drinks that are not 100 % juice
- Most ice cream and ice cream treats
- High-fat chips and snacks
- Greasy pizza
- Deep-fried, high-fat foods
WHEN DOES THIS TAKE EFFECT?
The federal snack rules will take effect during the 2014-2015 school year, but schools can start earlier to put these restrictions into effect. Many schools already have been making improvements. Thirty-nine states have a snack food policy.
In 2010 Congress passed the law championed by first lady Michelle Obama as a part of her efforts to stop childhood obesity, requiring the Agriculture Department to make changes in the rules describing acceptable school offered snacks. Several companies in the food industry worked with Congress three years ago on the child nutrition law.
ARE THERE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HIGH SCHOOL AND ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SNACKS?
Differences exist between high school and elementary or middle school regulations on appropriate snacks. Low-calorie sports drinks such as Gatorade’s G2, and diet drinks will be allowed in high school. However, elementary and middle schools will only be permitted to sell water, carbonated water, 100 percent fruit juice, 100 percent vegetable juice, nonfat flavored milk, and low fat and fat-free milk.