The public comment period has opened on new standards proposed by USDA to ensure children have access to healthy food options in school. U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says good nutrition lays the groundwork for good health and academic success. He says providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines and snack bars will complement the gains made with the new, healthy standards for school breakfast and lunch so the healthy choice is the easy choice for kids. The proposal promotes the availability of healthy snack foods with whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables or protein foods as their main ingredients. It also ensures snack food items are lower in fat, sugar and sodium and provide more of the nutrients kids need. Other highlights of the proposal include targeted standards, flexibility for important traditions, reasonable limitations on when and where the standards apply, flexibility for state and local communities and significant transition period for schools and industry.
USDA is required to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. This Smart Snacks in School proposed rule is the first step in the process to create national standards. These proposed standards draw on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, existing voluntary standards already implemented by thousands of schools around the country and healthy food and beverage offerings already available in the marketplace.
The public is encouraged to review USDA’s proposal and provide comments and information for the department’s consideration. The rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register next week. Once that happens - the public can provide feedback through www dot regulations dot gov (www.regulations.gov). The comment period will be open for 60 days