USDA Implements School Food RulesHere at Manna, we work hard to provide the 32.3% of MCPS school children who qualify for free- and reduced-price meals (FARMS) with nutritious foods for the weekend. Our Karen Goldberg Smart Sacks program provides over 2,000 elementary school kids with bags of meals and snacks for the weekend when FARMS are unavailable.
Kids who live in poverty often don’t have access to the best foods, and that decreases their chances at having a full belly in which to power their brain during class. Most of these children get their calories from “recreational” foods from the vending machines at school – things like soda, candy, and chips. These foods don’t power the brain; instead they drain energy and focus.
In 2010, the USDA implemented the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act gave USDA:
- Authority to issue healthy nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools (“competitive foods”)
- Power to eliminate unhealthy foods in vending machines, snack bars, “a la carte” lines in cafeterias, and other foods sold outside of the federally-reimbursed school meals
Nutrition standards for these optional foods in schools were set, and many schools began to offer water vending machines and healthier options. Though the culture of school food is changing slowly, students have begun to see more healthy options. New “proposed regulations will establish national nutrition standards for all foods sold on the school campus throughout the school day,” according to FRAC. Read the new proposed USDA rules here.
Manna hopes to be a part of this conversation as we move towards providing healthier options for our Goldberg Smart Sacks kids. What do you think about the options for kids in school? Would you want your kids to get their calories from vending machines? Watch FRAC’s great webinar here. Join the conversation on Twitter by tweeting to @fractweets, @USDA, or @MannaFoodCenter.