As many of you are aware, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 has been met with resistance, by not only parents and students, but by elected officials as well.
Recently, Congressional delegates from many states (including North Dakota and South Dakota) have introduced legislation that would eliminate the caps on grains and lean-meat protein sources that are currently limited in the new guidelines.
Although these are great steps in making the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act a better tool to tackle issues with school lunch, I personally feel that focusing on just those two limitations is not enough to make a change in the program. Calorie caps cannot be mandated on a national level. There are too many variables that can be better addressed locally.
And isn’t that what we strive for? Local control over local issues?
So, if the federal mandates on school lunch are not satisfactory, what do they tackle next? School snacks. That’s right, we now have proposed guidelines that address items that are sold in school, including fundraisers and items sold during the school day (including seconds, or ala carte items).
- Limiting the amount and use of accompaniments used with food, such as cream cheese, salad dressing and butter. They also propose that accompaniments be pre-portioned and included in the “nutrient profile” when served. For example, if a bagel were served they would possibly include a pre-determined amount of cream cheese, and those calories would be included in the calorie limit, whether or not the student would want to use cream cheese.
- Limiting the calories allowed for snacks. The proposed limits are 200 calories for snack items, 350 calories for entrée items. Remember when the solution to hungry athletes was to allow them to purchase seconds if they needed more food to get through the day? Well, now those seconds will be limited as well.
- School fundraisers would be encouraged to not involve food items. Those items that do not fall into the proposed guidelines would be limited. Although, there is some confusion in this section of the proposal, since the guidelines would not apply to non-school hours.
- All schools could sell plain water, plain low-fat milk, plain or flavored fat-free milk and milk alternatives and 100% fruit or vegetable juice, but elementary school could only sell up to 8-ounce portions, while middle schools and high schools could sell up to 12 ounce portions. Ironically, you could not sell a regular cola, but a diet cola would be OK.
The list continues on, and gets even more complicated. But the beauty of it all, is that this is just a proposal. It is open for public comment until April 9, so let’s be sure that our voices are heard, loud and clear, before the final recommendations are set.
Our kids are depending on us to make the right decisions, and we cannot rely on anyone else to make them for us.
Need more information? There will be a public webinar on Thursday, March 28 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. EST.