As many of you are aware, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 has been met with resistance, not only by parents and students, but by elected officials as well.
Recently, congressional delegates from many states (including North Dakota and South Dakota) have introduced legislation that would eliminate the caps on grains and lean-meat protein sources that are limited in the new guidelines.
Although these are great steps in making the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act a better tool to tackle issues with school lunch, I feel that focusing on just those two limitations is not enough to make a change in the program. Calorie caps cannot be mandated on a national level. There are too many variables that can be better addressed locally.
And isn’t that what we strive for? Local control over local issues?
So if the federal mandates on school lunch are not satisfactory, what do they tackle next? School snacks. That’s right, we now have proposed guidelines that address items that are sold in school, including fundraisers and items sold during the school day (including seconds, or ala carte items).
Here are some of the changes that are proposed:
- Limiting the amount and use of accompaniments used with food, such as cream cheese, salad dressing and butter. They also propose that accompaniments be pre-portioned and included in the “nutrient profile” when served. For example, if a bagel were served, they would possibly include a pre-determined amount of cream cheese, and those calories would be included in the calorie limit, whether or not the student would want to use cream cheese.
- Limiting the calories allowed for snacks. The proposed limits are 200 calories for snack items, 350 calories for entrée items. Remember when the solution for hungry athletes was to allow them to buy seconds if they needed more food to get through the day? Well, now those seconds will be limited as well.
- School fundraisers would be encouraged to not involve food items. Those items that do not fall into the proposed guidelines would be limited. There is some confusion in this section of the proposal because the guidelines would not apply to nonschool hours.
- All schools could sell plain water, plain low-fat milk, plain or flavored fat-free milk and milk alternatives and 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, but elementary schools could sell up to 8-ounce portions, while middle schools and high schools could sell up to 12-ounce portions. You could not sell a regular cola, but a diet cola would be OK.
The list continues and gets even more complicated. But the beauty of it all is that this is just a proposal. It is open for public comment until April 9, so let’s be sure that our voices are heard, loud and clear, before the final recommendations are set.
Our kids are depending on us to make the right decisions, and we cannot rely on anyone else to make them for us.
Val Wagner loves raising her four boys on the farm in Dickey County, along with her husband, Mark. Catch her blog, Wag’n Tales, at wagfarms.wordpress.com, or follow one of their cows on Twitter at Cows_Life. Contact her at email@example.com.