February 1, 2013
The USDA released today its landmark proposed standards for “competitive foods” sold in schools. Under the new rule, which is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, for the first time, foods that are sold outside of the regular school meal will have set limits for calories, fat, sugar, and sodium. The new standards will cover foods sold in vending machines and "a la carte" lunch lines, and any other foods regularly sold at school. Among other requirements, the proposed rule states that snacks would have to be less than 200 calories, and only water, low-fat milk, plain or flavored fat-free milk, permitted milk alternatives, and 100% juice can be sold in elementary and middle schools. Only lower-calorie beverages will be allowed in high schools.
“These proposed regulations represent a critical step in promoting comprehensive school wellness. For decades, there has been a loophole in the regulations which allowed schools to be invaded by soda and junk food,” said Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Rudd Center Deputy Director. “Finally, that loophole will be closed and food and beverage choices throughout the school will be in line with nutrition lessons taught in the classroom.”
The public will have 60 days to comment before the USDA writes the final rule, which means the rule will go into effect during the 2014 – 2015 school year.