Competitive Foods Are Widely Available
National data on the extent to which competitive foods are offered in schools are available from the 2005 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report (and others). The GAO study found that
SOURCE: GAO, 2005.
For example, the source table in the article indicated that 28.8 percent of elementary schools sold 1-percent milk in a vending machine, school store, canteen, or snack bar. However, only 43 percent of elementary schools were reported to have one or more of these sales venues. Therefore, for all schools, the percentage of elementary schools selling 1-percent milk in at least one of these venues is 43 times 0.288, or 12.4 percent, the percentage reported at the top of column 3 of Table 3-1.
The subsequent discussion provides details about competitive food and beverage sales venues and the kinds of foods often available outside the federally reimbursable school nutrition programs. Often, the same types of foods are sold or served to students in different locations, although safety and health factors such as refrigeration and freshness place limitations on distribution. Most high schools offer competitive foods and beverages in one or more of the categories listed in this section. Access to competitive foods and beverages is more limited in elementary schools, but is still very common.