July 2, 2013 – Enjoy having Gatorade and Mr. Big bars in your school vending machines this upcoming school year because they'll be gone and replaced with granola bars, diet cola, and other healthier items as early as next year.
The Agriculture Department is going to make all of the foods sold in the 100,000 schools in the United States healthier by changing all items sold at school– not just in the cafeteria– to also have to meet a certain nutritional requirement. This includes foods sold in vending machines and foods sold in line at cafeterias, which have never been regulated before.
This steps comes after a child nutrition law was passed by United States Congress in 2010 in the hopes of fighting childhood obesity. While some schools have begun to offer healthier options for meals and snacks many need a little push.
Some schools offer healthier free lunch and breakfast options, but that is because they are paid for by the government; some are still selling greasy mozzarella sticks and nachos in cafeterias, which are so unhealthy that they will undo any benefits from eating a healthy breakfast. High-calorie sports drinks were put in schools to replace high-calorie sodas, but they will be pulled as well.
Elementary and middle schools will only be allowed to sell water, 100 per cent fruit and vegetable juice, as well as low-fat, fat-free, and flavoured milks.
Don't worry though– not all your favourite foods and drinks will be taken off your school's menu. Schools can still serve foods like pizza and hamburgers so long as they are low-fat, low-sugar, and/or low-sodium. The program hopes to not only reduce the amount of unhealthy foods consumed but to also increase consumption of healthy foods like whole grains, low-fat dairy, vegetables, lean proteins, and fruits.
Instead of selling high-calorie sports drinks, high schools will be allowed to sell low-calorie sports drinks with 60 or fewer calories per cup. There will not be low-calorie sports drinks in elementary and middle schools.