These days there is a lot of talk about why we should have healthier food in schools –from childhood obesity prevention to positive nutrition messaging to the connection between healthy diet and academic performance. These are all great reasons, but for me it really boils down to that offering healthy food choices is the right thing for kids. Schools, as centers of learning, have a responsibility to offer nutritious foods and drinks for students – not ones that are high in fat, calories and sugar.
Did you know that every day, about 40 percent of students buy and eat snacks at school, and nearly 70 percent buy and consume sugary drinks? Many of these snacks and drinks available for sale at school -- through vending machines, à la carte lines, stores and fundraisers -- are high in calories, fat, sugar, and salt, and low in nutritional value.
The good news is that for the first time in 30 years, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed national nutrition standards for all foods and drinks sold on school campuses. The proposed guidelines were released in February, 2013 and are open for public comment until April 9, 2013.
The comment period closes in just a few short weeks, so we need your help to let the USDA know that parents and other members of the school community support healthy foods and drinks in schools.
The basic message is clear: by giving kids healthier choices at school, they have a better chance at being and staying healthy. Both research studies and reports from schools show that when schools switch to selling healthier snack foods and beverages kids’ diets improve and schools don’t lose revenue.
If you agree that kids need healthier choices at school, join us by submitting a comment to the USDA today!