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Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way Toward Healthier Youth
Were new regulations or policies to implement part or all of these standards issued by local, state, or federal agencies?
Was legislation requiring part or all of these nutrition standards adopted at the local, state, or federal levels?
The federally mandated local wellness policies and CDC school health program promotion initiatives both provide an excellent opportunity for school districts to set nutrition standards that only allow the offering of healthy foods and beverages. Were these standards incorporated in part or in full in local or state school wellness policies, or as part of the comprehensive coordinated school health programs recommended by CDC?
Response of Food Producers, Manufacturers, and Vendors
In order for the recommended nutrition standards to be successful, food producers, manufacturers, and vendors must supply the amounts, kinds, and forms of the fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nonfat and low-fat dairy products needed. Manufacturers and vendors are the source of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain and combination products that meet the recommended standards. Therefore, in some cases, foods and beverages may need to be reformulated or uniformly portion-packaged to comply with these standards. Entirely new products may also be developed. Examining whether those manufacturers that supply foods and beverages to schools are willing to match product offerings to schools’ needs under the new standards is the role of evaluators of the implementation of the standards.
Moreover, it will be important to assess and recognize whether food and beverage providers of all types engage in any innovative marketing practices in schools to promote the healthful foods and beverages offered under the new nutrition standards. A related issue of interest will be whether local producers involved in “farm-to-school” efforts are able to take advantage of the changes in the nutrition standards to incorporate local produce and other products into the foods and beverages offered in the school setting.
Foods and Beverages Available in Schools
The standards cover foods and beverages offered à la carte, in vending machines, in student stores, and in snack bars, as well as those used in celebrations, in fund-raising, and during after-school activities. An examination of the actual foods and beverages available to students of different ages, in different school venues, and at different times of day will be an essential benchmark to determine if the standards change food availability in a positive way if new products are introduced that violate the spirit of