The newest nutrition bill from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, has set new nutritional standards for snacks served in schools across the country. The mandate, signed into law by President Obama, sets out certain nutritional standards for meals and snacks served in schools across the country.
The Smart Snacks in School initiative requires schools to sell only snacks which meet certain requirements with regards to their ingredients, and calorie, sodium, fat, and sugar content. This rule comes into effect in July this year.
The Smart Snacks in School proposal includes:
- More of the foods we should encourage. Promoting availability of healthy snack foods with whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables or protein foods as their main ingredients.
- Less of the foods we should avoid. Ensuring that snack food items are lower in fat, sugar, and sodium and provide more of the nutrients kids need.
- Targeted standards. Allowing variation by age group for factors such as beverage portion size and caffeine content.
- Flexibility for important traditions. Preserving the ability for parents to send in bagged lunches of their choosing or treats for activities such as birthday parties, holidays, and other celebrations; and allowing schools to continue traditions like occasional fundraisers and bake sales.
Fresh Healthy Vending, the US’s leading healthy vending franchiser, has placed 400 vending machines in schools across the country in anticipation of these new rules. The company has developed customised menus of snacks that meet the new requirements to put in the machines.
In addition to the snack requirements, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA have mandated that vending machine owners who have more than 20 machines must post the calorie content of every item in the machine.
The vendor must “provide a sign in close proximity to the article of food or the selection button that includes a clear and conspicuous statement disclosing the number of calories contained in the article.” The rule is slated to be finalized in February 2014.