A ruling handed down Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will mean no more junk food in school cafeterias and vending machines, according to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Gillibrand has pushed for eliminating junk food in schools. The provision was included in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Schools Act that was adopted in 2010.
The measure requires the USDA to set nutritional guidelines for foods sold in schools. Some of the proposed guidelines include ensuring snacks are low in fat, sugar and sodium and provide more nutrients, and promoting the availability of healthy snacks, according to a news release.
Treats for birthday parties or bake sales, for example, will be exempt from the rules.
“If our children are going to succeed and meet their full potential in the classroom, they need access to healthy meals in the lunchroom,” Gillibrand said in a statement. “Eliminating junk food from schools and offering healthier snacks is the right thing to do to keep our children healthy, and on a path to success.”
The breakdown of the USDA's proposal is posted below:
· Promotes the availability of healthy snack foods with whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables or protein foods as their main ingredients.
· Ensures snack food items are lower in fat, sugar, and sodium and provide more of the nutrients kids need.
· Allows variation by age group for factors such as beverage portion size and caffeine content.
· Preserves 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.
· Ensures that standards only affect foods that are sold on school campus during the school day. Foods sold at an afterschool 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.