Parents’ support USDA standards for healthier options in school vending machines

vending machine

vending machineSchool meals may be getting healthier but what about the vending machines?

Eighty percent of American voters favor  and encourage the consumption of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy items, according to a new poll commissioned by the Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project, a joint project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expected to propose such standards in the next few months. It is anticipated that they will apply to snacks and beverages—such as sugary drinks, salty snacks, pizza, ice cream, and french fries—that can be purchased from vending machines, school stores, and cafeteria à la carte lines. Such items—which are sold in schools, but are not part of the federal school meal programs—are sometimes called “competitive foods,” because they compete with school meals for students’ spending. The standard that applies to them now is 30 years old and does not reflect current nutrition science.

“Healthier food in schools means healthier kids,” said Jessica Donze Black, a registered dietitian and project director for the Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project. “Ensuring that all food available to students in schools is nutritious can reduce children’s risk for obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, and help them learn important lessons about staying healthy for life.”