Leaner, healthier eats urged for U.S. schools

first_img“Foods and beverages should not be used to reward or to discipline for academic activities or behavior,” said Stallings, director of the nutrition center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Food sold in school cafeterias under federally assisted lunch programs already must meet nutritional standards. The institute’s recommendations cover items considered competitive with those foods. Examples include snacks in vending machines and other food and drinks sold at school but not under the federal program. Selling these foods is a money maker in some communities. Janey Thornton, president of the School Nutrition Association, said she expects complaints about losing this source of money if the recommendations are adopted. “Shame on us if we try to balance the school budget based on the nutritional health of kids,” Thornton said, whose organization represents school food service directors. Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, said the recommendations “offer a tool kit for local, state, and federal policymakers who already know that we need to do more much more – to promote sound child nutrition and prevent childhood obesity.” WASHINGTON – Whole-grain crackers, low-fat yogurt, fruit and water could become the school snacks of the future, driving out fattening fancies such as cola and fried chips. The Institute of Medicine on Wednesday recommended new standards for school snacks and foods that sharply would limit calories, fat and sugar while encouraging more nutritious eating. Concerned about the rise of obesity in young people, Congress asked the institute to develop the standards. Lawmakers now will consider them, as will state and local school officials. “Making sure that all foods and drinks available in schools meet nutrition standards is one more way schools can help children establish lifelong healthy eating habits,” said Virginia A. Stallings, head of the committee that prepared the report. Thornton said she thinks the report does not go far enough because there is no system for enforcement. “We would like to see national standards for (school) food and beverages” that the Agriculture Department could enforce, she said. The standards would help children learn the principles of good nutrition which they could also apply at home, said Thornton, child nutrition director for the Hardin County School District in Kentucky. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img