The days when children consume two orders of French fries in the school cafeteria and call it lunch may be numbered. A bipartisan group in Congress plans to introduce legislation today that would prohibit the sale in school not only of French fries but also of other fatty or sugary foods, including soft drinks.Or Libby Quaid from AP (via TribStar.com):
Under the bill, an amendment to the National School Lunch Act, high nutritional standards would be required of all food sold on school premises. That means not just in cafeterias but in vending machines, school stores and snack bars as well, even at fund-raising events.
"Junk food sales in schools are out of control," Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, senior Democrat on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, said Thursday. "It undercuts our investment in school meal programs and steers kids toward a future of obesity and diet-related disease."
Harkin and a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill to have the Agriculture Department set new nutritional standards for all food sold in schools. The goal is to restrict junk food sales in schools.
The department sets standards for breakfasts and lunches in federal school meal programs, which reimburse public and nonprofit private schools for giving free or reduced-price meals to kids. Those meals must follow federal dietary guidelines, which call for more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and less calories, fat, added sugars and sodium.
But the standards don't apply to a la carte lines in cafeterias, vending machines or school stores. The Agriculture Department has tried to restrict junk food before, but a 1983 federal court ruling, in a lawsuit by the National Soft Drink Association, said the limits could only apply to cafeterias during meals, not for the entire day throughout campus.
Today, candy, soda and other snacks are sold in nine out of 10 schools, according to the Government Accountability Office. Already plentiful in high schools, junk food has become more available in middle schools over the past five years, GAO found.