New rules for school food kick in this July — and for kids going back to school in the fall, it’s sad sad news (okay, not really sad, but healthy healthy news). According to new regulations being instituted by the USDA, junk food is now totally verboten — in school vending machines, stores, and lunchrooms. That means that fruits, veggies, whole grains, and dairy are good to go — high-sodium, high-sugar, and high-fat foods are not.
“The new standards preserve flexibility for time-honored traditions like fundraisers and bake sales, and provide ample transition time for schools,” according to the USDA. “USDA is committed to working closely with students, parents, school stakeholders and the food and beverage industries to implement the new guidelines, and make the healthy choice the easy choice for Americas young people.
That means that anything sold on campus that’s “competitive” with school food must be a fruit, vegetable, dairy product, lean-protein product, whole-grain food, or a “combo food” that’s comprised of at least a quarter-cup of fruits or vegetables. They also must max out at 200 calories for snacks or sides and 350 calories for “entrees.”
Items sold on campus must not contain more than 35 percent sugar by weight, more than 35 percent calories from fat, more than 10 percent calories from saturated fat, and cannot contain trans fats. The only competitive beverages that can be sold are water (both sparkling and flat), low-fat or no-fat milk, or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice — maxing out at 12 oz for middle and high schoolers (8 oz for elementary schools).