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Sound Off: Eliminating Junk Food from Schools

USDA issues ruling to eliminate junk food from school cafeterias, vending machines.

Sound Off: Eliminating Junk Food from Schools Sound Off: Eliminating Junk Food from Schools
Editor's Note: This article was written and submitted by Matthew Hogan.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued its ruling to eliminate the sale of all junk food in schools earlier this week.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Schools Act, signed into law in 2010 on the back of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, requires the USDA to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, including beyond the federally-supported school meals programs.

The USDA's proposal includes:
  • Promoting the availability of healthy snack foods with whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables or protein foods as their main ingredients.
  • Ensuring snack food items are lower in fat, sugar, and sodium and provide more of the nutrients kids need.
  • Allowing variation by age group for factors such as beverage portion size and caffeine content.
  • Preserving the ability for parents to send in bagged lunches of their choosing or treats for activities such as birthday parties, holidays and other celebrations; and allowing schools to continue traditions like occasional fundraisers and bake sales.
  • Ensuring that standards only affect foods that are sold on school campus during the school day. Foods sold at an after-school sporting event or other activity will not be subject to these requirements.
  • Allows significant local and regional autonomy by only establishing minimum requirements for schools. States and schools that have stronger standards than what is being proposed will be able to maintain their own policies.

The standards will take effect at least one full school year after public comment is considered and an implementing rule is published to ensure that schools and vendors have adequate time to adapt.

Do you think "junk food" should be eliminated from schools in Bellmore-Merrick? Tell us in the comments section below.

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