No one — particularly parents — has said changing behavior of kids is easy. For school officials looking to wean students from junk food to more healthy options, time and persistence is needed.
Updated nutrition standards for school meals, first implemented in the 2012-13 school year, represented a giant step forward. Following that, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has put in place new Smart Snack standards for food sold in vending machines and other places during school hours on campus. Those rules will come into force this fall.
Another needed step came in late February, when the USDA’s new regulation for school wellness policies was published.
In announcing the new proposal, first lady Michelle Obama described the goal:
“The idea here is simple. Our classrooms should be healthy places where kids aren’t bombarded with ads for junk food,” she said.
School wellness policies have been required for schools participating in the lunch program since 2006, but the regulation defines appropriate marketing messages.
Cheetos and non-diet cola logos can’t be plastered on school vending machines. But that small step should not be the end of the story. Produce marketing companies should explore opportunities to promote their fresh produce to students in this new, more healthy school food environment.
That’s the whole idea, isn’t it?
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