CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Education

February 1, 2013

Rules would make school snacks healthier

WASHINGTON — The government for the first time is proposing broad new standards to make school snacks healthier, a move that would ban the sale of almost all candy, high-calorie sports drinks and greasy foods on campus.

Under new rules the Department of Agriculture proposed Friday, school vending machines that once were full of Skittles and Sprite would instead be selling water, lower-calorie sports drinks, diet sodas and baked chips. Lunch rooms that now sell fatty "a la carte" items like mozzarella sticks and nachos would have to transition to healthier pizzas, fruit cups and yogurt.

The rules, required under a child nutrition law passed by Congress in 2010, are an effort to combat childhood obesity. While many schools have already made improvements in their lunch menus and vending machine choices, others are still selling high-fat, high-calorie foods.

The USDA is proposing fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits on almost all foods sold in school. Current standards already regulate the nutritional content of school breakfasts and lunches subsidized by the federal government, but most lunch rooms also have "a la carte" lines that sell other foods.

"Parents and teachers work hard to instill healthy eating habits in our kids, and these efforts should be supported when kids walk through the schoolhouse door," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Most snacks sold in school would have to be less than 200 calories, and elementary and middle schools could only sell water, low-fat milk or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice. High schools could sell some sports drinks, but the calories would be limited.

The standards will cover vending machines, the "a la carte" lunch lines and any other foods regularly sold around school. The proposed rules would not cover in-school fundraisers or bake sales, though states could decide to individually regulate those. The guidelines do not apply to after-school concessions at school games or theater events, goodies brought from home for classroom celebrations, or anything a student brings for their own personal consumption.

The new rules would be one of many recent changes to the school lunch program to make foods healthier. Nutritional guidelines for the subsidized lunches were revised last year and put in place last fall. The 2010 child nutrition law also provided more money for schools to serve free and reduced-cost lunches and required more meals to be served to hungry kids.

Last year's rules faced criticism from some conservatives, including some Republicans in Congress, who said the government shouldn't be telling kids what to eat. Mindful of that backlash, USDA exempted in-school fundraisers and proposed different options for some parts of the rule, including the calorie limits for drinks in high schools, which would be limited to either 60 calories or 75 calories in a 12 oz. portion.

The department has also showed willingness to work with schools who have complained that some of the new requirements are hard to meet, relaxing some limits on meats and grains in the subsidized lunches last year.

Schools, industry, interest groups and any critics of the new proposal will have 60 days to comment and suggest changes, before the USDA writes the final rule. The soonest the rules could be in place would be the 2014 school year.

Margo Wootan, a nutrition lobbyist for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says surveys done by her organization show that most parents want changes in the lunchroom.

"Parents aren't going to have to worry that kids are using their lunch money to buy candy bars and a Gatorade instead of a healthy school lunch," she said.

The food industry has been on board with many of the changes, and several companies worked with Congress on the child nutrition law two years ago. Major beverage companies have already agreed to take the most caloric sodas out of schools. Those same companies, like Coca-Cola Co. & PepsiCo Inc., also sell many of the non-soda options, like sports drinks, and have lobbied to keep them in vending machines.

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, has been working to take junk foods out of schools since the 1990s. He calls the availability of unhealthy foods around campus a "loophole" that undermines the taxpayer money that helps pay for the healthier subsidized lunches.

"USDA's proposed nutrition standards are a critical step in closing that loophole and in ensuring that our schools are places that nurture not just the minds of American children, but their bodies as well," Harkin said.

 

1
Text Only
Education
  • WSCC patient care specialist BOOST program offers certification as Patient Care Specialist in one year

    Starting this fall, Wallace State Community College will offer a new health program aimed at helping individuals who are looking for entry into the medical field, or to change gears after spending time out of the workforce, whether from losing their jobs due to the economy, downsizing or other factors.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • WSCC HILL.jpg Hill hits the ground running at Wallace State

    Marcie Hill of Double Springs likes taking on new challenges. As an 18-year veteran of the education system, Hill has taught first grade, sixth grade and served as a reading coach to students and teachers in Kindergarten through sixth grade.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Barnes enjoy Samford's governor's school.jpg Area residents enjoy Samford’s Alabama Governor’s School

    Students from two area high schools were chosen to attend Alabama Governor’s School at Samford University June 15-27. They were among 91 outstanding rising high school seniors from 24 counties who were selected for the two-week honors program.
     

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • University of Memphis Reduces Tuition for Out-of-State Students

    The Tennessee Board of Regents has approved a proposal that will significantly reduce the amount of tuition that out-of-state students pay to attend the University of Memphis.


    Under the new 250-R program, full-time undergraduates who graduated from a high school within 250 miles of Memphis will now pay $12,456 a year, an almost $10,000 reduction from last year’s amount of $21,768.

    June 20, 2014

  • WSCC students SkillsUSA comp 1.jpg Four Wallace State students set to compete this month at the 50th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference

    Wallace State’s Technical Division has made it an annual tradition to send multiple students to the SkillsUSA national competition. This year is no different.

    June 11, 2014 3 Photos

  • Dickerson chosen Boys State.jpg Dickerson chosen to attend Boys State

    Davis Dickerson, a student at Good Hope High School, son of Bruce and Jennifer Dickerson, received the American Legion Boys’ State award for 2014 from American Legion Post 4 Adjutant Don Reid.

    June 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Southern Am. Legion Girls State.jpg Southern chosen for Girls State

    Miranda Southern, a student at Good Hope High School, daughter of Douglas Southern, received the American Legion Auxiliary 2014 Girls’ State award of $200 from American Legion Auxiliary Unit 4 Secretary-Treasurer Mary Reid.

    June 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cullman students earn Martin Methodist College honors

    Two residents of Cullman County received academic honors during the spring semester at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tenn.
    Brandie Overton and Darcie Wilson, both of Cullman, were named to the Dean’s List with a semester grade point average of 3.5 to 3.9.

    May 30, 2014

  • Crisologo earns degree.jpg Crisologo earns D.P.M. degree from Des Moines University

    Des Moines University granted 539 degrees at its 2014 Commencement Ceremony, the 114th in the university's history, on Saturday, May 24, at 10 a.m. at Hy-Vee Hall in the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. The dean from each of the three DMU colleges presented their classes and DMU President Angela L. Walker Franklin, Ph.D., conferred degrees.

    May 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Moon graduates from Southeastern Bible College

    John Clint Moon of Empire was awarded an associate of arts degree in leadership ministries from Southeastern Bible College Friday, May 9, 2014.

    May 29, 2014