Say goodbye to your school cafeteria vending machines and soda dispensers, and hello to a (possibly) healthier generation of kids. The USDA is tackling childhood obesity head-first by instituting its new “Smart Snacks in School” program which hopes to eliminate all junk food and snacks with zero nutritional value from public school grounds. The U.S. is one of the nations with the highest prevalence of childhood obesity (18 percent of children ages six to 19 are obese).
“Basically, the new rules limit the amount of sugar, fat, calories, and salt in foods that can be sold in school vending machines, and encourage healthier eating amongst students,” said Sean Kelly, the CEO of Healthy Human Vending, in an instructional video.
The “Smart Snacks” program was finalized last year, but all schools must comply with the new policy by July, just in time for the 2014-15 school year. All school food and snacks will have to meet at least one of a list of requirements including: The product must be a whole grain product; have a fruit, vegetable, dairy product, or protein as the first ingredient; contain at least ¼ cup of fruits or vegetables; or contain at least 10 percent of a child’s recommended daily intake of calcium, potassium, or vitamin D.
Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi