USDA Implements Healthier School Snack Standard Across The Nation

HealthyKids Say good-bye to Cheetos, Doritos, and sugar-filled sodas, and hello to granola bars, trail mix, and baked potato chips. The government has created a new healthy food standard in schools, “The Smart Snacks In School” Nutrition Standard that will offer healthier snack foods for kids, while also limiting junk food served to students.

Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, the USDA will be implementing the new standard in schools across the nation to hopefully make a dent in childhood obesity. One-third of children today under the age of 18 are considered to be overweight or obese, are more likely to inherit preventable diseases like diabetes and heart disease, and may be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents.

With the new standard, school foods will limit fat, salt, and sugar content in school snacks, will cap portion sizes, and must contain at least 50% whole grains, or a fruit, vegetable, dairy, or protein as the first ingredient.

However, a loop-hole in the standard will be that children are still allowed to bring in any snacks from home that they choose, and parents can continue to provide treats for birthday celebrations or holidays to classrooms. Special fundraising and after-school activities, such as sporting events, are not subject to the regulations.

The regulations will cover over 50 million children attending more than 100,000 schools that are part of the federal school lunch program. Officials are hoping it will begin a significant change in the way young people eat in the U.S., and will make it easier for kids and their families to eat healthier foods and help to improve the health of communities.

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