Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Freshening Up School Vending Machines

The concern for childhood obesity has increased tenfold over the last few years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents during the past 30 years. And, the risks of childhood obesity can result in long-term cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. In addition, an overweight or obese child can feel the effects from a social standpoint, opening them up to ridicule and bullying from classmates.

In an effort the help prevent childhood obesity from continually growing, the USDA is seeking to rid school vending machines of junk food such as chips and candy bars in exchange for more healthy options like fruits and vegetables. The proposed rule, Smart Snacks, requires schools to uphold nutritional standards consistent with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If passed, the law would go into effect at least a full school year after final approval, allowing schools to acclimate to the new changes.

Under the proposed rule, food sold in schools must:
  • Either be a fruit, vegetable, dairy product, protein food, a whole-grain product or a combination food that contains at least one quarter cup of fruit or vegetable; or 
  • Contain 10% of the daily value of a nutrient cited as a public health concern in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: calcium, potassium, vitamin D or fiber; and 
  • Must meet a range of calorie and nutrient requirements. 
Not only will this new program aid in reducing childhood obesity, produce and other Agribusiness companies will have the opportunity to increase sales to schools. This allows them to expand their business relationships to a whole new group of customers. As a result, they will have the ability to develop new food products specifically designed for school vending machines across the nation. For more information about Smart Snacks, read the full article on The Packer’s website.

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