ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released the proposed rule for competitive food standards as required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program: Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in School are part of a package designed to ensure students have healthy options in school.
Other parts of the package include updated nutrition standards for federally subsidized school meals that provide children more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; additional funding for schools to support improved meals; and guidance on stronger local wellness policies, according to the USDA website.
For many years NASBE's nutrition projects have fostered strong state policies in healthy eating for students across the country. While these recently released standards are meant to be a floor rather than a ceiling, many states currently have strong rules in place regarding competitive foods, as can be seen in NASBE's School Health Policy Database. NASBE welcomes the release of these standards and looks forward to working with its membership and the USDA toward their implementation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released Competitive Foods and Beverages in U.S. Schools: A State Policy Analysis, which reported that 39 states have laws, regulations, or policies related to competitive food and beverages in schools, while 11 states have none. The report, which cites NASBE's school health database as a primary source, points to the effective work of West Virginia.
Gayle Manchin, vice president of the West Virginia State Board of Education said, "Prior to these regulations, the West Virginia State Board committed itself to having strong standards and implementing them with fidelity, and our students have benefitted greatly as a result. I applaud the USDA's efforts, and I am excited to see that strong competitive food standards will be implemented nationwide."
"NASBE has awaited the release of these standards with great anticipation, knowing the importance of nutrition to the health and academic achievement of students in every state," said NASBE Deputy Executive Director Bradley Hull. "NASBE and state board members nationwide recognize the importance of this work and look forward to a successful and effective collaboration to put strong policies in place for our nation's students."
The draft standards are expected to be published in the Federal Register the week of February 4, and will be available at http://www.fns.usda.gov/cga/020113-snacks.pdf. The public may provide comment for 60 days after the posting at www.regulations.gov.
The National Association of State Boards of Education represents America's state and territorial boards of education. NASBE exists to strengthen state boards as the preeminent educational policymaking bodies for citizens and students. For more, visit www.nasbe.org.
SOURCE National Association of State Boards of Education