The Child Nutrition Bill and Our Schools
Now that Congress has passed the child nutrition bill and President Obama signed it in to law, schools across the country will start to determine how the new legislation impacts their own meal and vending programs.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act allows the Secretary of Agriculture to establish nutrition standards for foods sold in schools throughout the day, including items in vending machines.
As far as details go, the bill is a good start – but it is not enough to make groundbreaking changes in student nutrition. For low-income students, the bill provides only 6 cents more per meal, and almost half of the $4.5 billion cost during the next decade is coming from cuts in the food-stamp program.
While it does not amount to a complete overhaul of the school lunch program, the child nutrition bill does include many significant improvements for student nutrition. It increases the availability of school lunches by expanding the pool of low-income children eligible for the both free and reduced-price meals, while also stopping the federal government from subsidizing junk food and sugary drinks, whether they are sold in vending machines of from behind the counter.
The Importance of the Bill
The bill was passed just as the Journal of Adolescent Health released a report examining the impact of vending machine foods on 5,930 students at 152 schools. More than 80% of the schools surveyed had vending machines selling foods with minimal nutritional value, including chips, sodas and sweets.
In addition to these funding changes, the nutritional guidelines have been rewritten to include more fruits and vegetables, and less fat, salt, and starch.
In response to the passing of the child nutrition bill, traditional vending machines in schools across the country are being replaced by healthy vending machines by HUMAN. Progressive schools are replacing their machines before they are asked to comply to make sure they can take advantage of $10,000 in school grants provided by SPARK for replacing their junk food machines with with healthy vending machines.
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