WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture released guidelines on Feb. 1 that establish nutrition standards for "competitive" foods and beverages sold in schools, which include vending machine products.
Under the proposed rules, all food items sold in vending machines, school stores and snack bars, as well as a la carte items sold in cafeterias, cannot exceed 200 calories and must meet other nutritional guidelines, including limits on fat and sugar.
In addition to the many snacks that would be eliminated under the new rules, there would also be limits on beverages, such as sports drinks. But schools would be permitted to sell low-fat milk, fat-free chocolate milk, and fruit and vegetable juice. The proposal also sets calorie limits on other beverages.
The new changes are part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a government initiative aimed at curbing childhood obesity by promoting healthier eating and improving the nutrition of school food. The law required the USDA to set standards for "competitive foods," or items sold at schools during the school day outside the lunch program.
The regulations do not apply to reimbursable school meals, which must meet their own nutrition standards that were updated earlier this year. They also do not apply to fundraisers, bake sales, items sold at sporting events after school hours, or foods or beverages brought to school from home.
The proposed rules have a 60-day comment period.