The 160-page regulation from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) would enact nutrition standards for “competitive” foods not included in the official school meal.
In practice, the proposed rules would replace traditional potato chips with tasteless baked versions and candy with hippie-style granola. Regular soda is out, though high-schoolers may have access to bland diet versions.
“Although nutrition standards for foods sold at school alone may not be a determining factor in children’s overall diets, they are critical to providing children with healthy food options throughout the entire school day,” the proposed rule states.
The rules are a product of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which also overhauled the nutritional make-up of regular school meals. They would apply to any school, public or private, that participates in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program.
Those rules saw a backlash from obese conservative lawmakers who said students were going hungry as a result of calorie limits. One 400-pound GOP House member famously compared the rules to “The Hunger Games.” The USDA eventually relaxed some guidelines in response.
The regulations state that all competitive foods must be either a fruit, vegetable, dairy product, protein food, “whole-grain rich” product, or a combination food that contains at least 1/4 cup of fruits or vegetables; or they must contain 10 percent of the daily value of a major nutrient. They do not address our Constitutional right to eat and drink any unhealthy product that we see fit.
All snacks must also meet a range of calorie and nutrition requirements, such as limits on sodium, total sugar and calories from fat, with few exceptions.
The rules stipulates that all schools may sell water, low-fat and fat-free milks and milk alternatives and 100-percent fruit and vegetable juices, with portion sizes varying by student age.
High schools will also be permitted to sell carbonated beverages, as long as they contain five calories or less per serving.
Opinion: The regulations do not yet place a government official in every kitchen to ensure what Moms put in their children's lunch boxes. But they're most likely coming!
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