While the fight continues to make sure Congress does not weaken, delay or stop improved nutritional guidelines for school nutrition, many schools across the country already have a head start when it comes to implementing Smart Snacks Standards.
New research from our friends at Bridging the Gap finds that 16 states have laws that fully meet at least one provision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s updated standards for snacks and drinks served in schools. Meanwhile, 10 more states have laws that partially meet one or more of the provisions.
Published in the research journal Childhood Obesity, the study is the first to examine how existing state laws align with the USDA standards, which are scheduled to go into effect on July 1.
“It’s encouraging to see that some states already have laws in place that will make it easier for them to comply with USDA’s updated standards,” said lead author Jamie Chriqui, PhD, MHS, an investigator at Bridging the Gap. “Many states and school districts where policy efforts have preceded, or even exceeded, USDA’s requirements have successfully transformed their schools to offer healthier snacks and drinks — we can, and should, learn from these leaders.”
States are making greater headway when it comes to beverage standards, as 14 already have laws that fully meet at least one of the USDA’s Smart Snacks requirements. Nine states, meanwhile, meet at least one food standard.
It isn’t suprising that no state law fully complied with the upcoming federal standards, Chirqui said. State and district policies vary widely, and as a result, many schools have sold junk foods and sugary drinks. That impacts kids’ health — one report by the organization Mission: Readiness found that students in the U.S. consume almost 400 billion calories from high-calorie, low-nutrient foods sold in schools every year.
“Our nation’s schools have a powerful influence on kids’ diets and their health. We need to ensure that all kids—regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or which state they live in—have the opportunity to choose nutritious snacks and drinks throughout the day,” said John Lumpkin, MD, senior vice president at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the study “Some states and districts have farther to go, and it’s going to take collaboration between industry and schools to help close the gap, but the ultimate goal is too important to ignore. We’re working to build a Culture of Health that supports all children maintaining a healthy weight.”
Click here for more information on the study.