Healthy Food Standards For American Schools
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has put forward a new set of guidelines for foods sold in schools. Snacks bought in American schools should contain less fat, a lot less salt and sugar and be made up of healthier ingredients such as fruit, vegetables and whole wheat cereals. Everybody’s reaction is, ‘about time’!
The standards are over a year past a notional deadline. They also call for a maximum level of 200 calories in snack products sold in term time, via vending machines or other points of sale other than the school’s own lunch counter. One in three American school age children have an unhealthy body mass index or are clinically obese. The child nutrition act became law two years ago and the new standards are just one part of a government campaign to improve the health of the nation. Food in school is clearly a key part of this effort.
image credit (businessinsider.com)
American children spend so much of their time in education establishments; it only makes good common sense to limit the food choices available there, to healthy ones. If your child spends your money, on snack food out of a vending machine or a burger meal from the school kitchen, it ought not to do them harm and it ought to be healthy. The new nutrition guidelines are the first improvement to the school food standards in over thirty years. Many parents and education figures feel the new standards have been too long in the making.
American kids in school are afloat on an ocean of junk food. It is estimated that our children put around $400 BILLION worth of junk food into their systems every year. This equates to around two billion bars of candy. It is a scary scenario that is of grave concern to the military. A group of retired military figures called the ‘Mission’ are telling anyone who will listen, that a quarter of America’s youth are too overweight to join the forces. America is not ready for either fight or flight in the event of a national threat.
Changing the choices available to kids in schools will be a big step in remedying this situation. Higher standards of nutrition at the snack counters will mean in the words of the secretary for agriculture, “the healthy choice is the easy choice for our kids.”
The US Department of Agriculture report that the guidelines do not go as far as specifying the nutritional content of foods sold at schools but outside of school times. For example at sports events, the central rule is that any institute could not supply over 35% of children’s calories with fat or sugar and they must also limit the quantity of salt. Water must be made available, as should skimmed and semi-skimmed milk, as well as pure fruit juices.
Apparently the beverage makers of America have already acted to slash the calorie count supplied to schools. It is down by 90% since ‘07. The new school food standards are open for public debate for sixty days.