Also see the 49 pages of comments from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
The Center for Food Safety writes that the USDA proposed rule on competitive food doesn’t go far enough.
USDA should help schools eliminate competitive foods altogether for the following reasons.
- Competitive foods financially undermine the school meal program.
- Competitive foods at school meals creates stigma for low-income children.
- Slightly healthier junk food is still unhealthy, sends the wrong message.
- Competitive food allows junk food companies to market to children.
- Challenge of enforcing nutrition guidelines for competitive foods.
Thus, to maximize the economic benefit to schools, USDA should provide resources to help schools that want to eliminate competitive foods completely, as opposed to placing a healthy halo and government seal of approval upon highly-processed and nutritionally-void products from companies seeking only to target children with their brands. At the very least, USDA should be clear that schools are not required to offer competitive foods and are free to remove them any time they wish, as some districts and states have already done.
In conclusion, to ensure children’s health, USDA should provide guidance and resources to assist schools in successfully eliminating all competitive foods from schools.
Beyond the technical comments about tweaks to the proposed rule, the passion on this issue comes from the local level:
Brenda Thompson from Texas writes:
As a food blogger, chairperson of the wellness committee at our local elementary school and nutrition sub-committee chair on our school district’s School Health Advisory Council, I support the proposed changes being made by the USDA. I have witnessed first-hand students purchasing items such as ice cream and chips and then eating those items first and letting the plate lunches go to waste. If healthier options were available, at least they would not be filling up on junk so much.