USDA Finalizes Nutrition Standards for “Competitive Foods” in Schools

Yesterday, USDA finalized the national school nutrition standards for vending machines, a la carte purchases, school stores, and other foods sold in schools outside of lunch. Combined with the improvements in school lunches in the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, all foods and beverages sold in schools will now need to meet healthy nutrition standards.  The “Smart Snacks in School” standards will take effect in the 2013-2014 school year.

These new standards, which Earth Day Network has advocated for in partnership with the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA), set sensible limits on caloric intake, salt, sugar, and fat in both food and beverages offered in schools. No longer will companies be able to fortify junk food and qualify them as “healthy” options for our students. 

Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, issued a statement in which she expressed her support of the new standards, and reminded us there is still much to do. ”The next vital part of the process is for districts to begin implementing these standards. The guidelines established by USDA serve as a baseline—states and localities can build on them and customize exactly what items are served to students in their schools.”

Earth Day Network’s National School Lunch Campaign aims to help schools across the country meet these challenges and ensure that all students have access to the healthiest and most sustainable food and drink options during the school day. Check out this new infographic from the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project to learn more about how these foods will impact kids’ diets and health.