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North Fulton schools grapple with federal junk food ban
by James Swift
jswift@neighbornewspapers.com
July 02, 2014 11:39 AM | 2185 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Roswell's Goddard school students Andrew Rowe and Samantha Meyer pick fresh herbs.
Roswell's Goddard school students Andrew Rowe and Samantha Meyer pick fresh herbs.
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USDA Smart Snacks in Schools standards went into effect nationwide on July 1. Under the federal requirements, foods such as fried chips and high-calorie sodas are barred from being sold to students during normal school hours.

The standards place restrictions on “competitive foods” sold in vending machines and school stores. The regulations apply to both public and private schools participating in the National School Lunch Program, although requirements differ depending on grade level. Fulton County Schools Nutrition Program Executive Director Alyssia Wright said every school in the county, including preschools, must comply with the regulations.

“We have been able to gradually make the changes by offering more healthy options since 2008,” Wright said. “What the standards require of our schools now is that we are in line with what the state says, which we have been doing.”

States decide the maximum number of fundraisers schools may hold per year where food that does not meet nutritional standards are sold. Wright said she doesn’t anticipate an official number — if any — until later this month. She said she does project revenue loss stemming from the new requirements. “I expect it to be no more than 20 percent of generated revenue from our extra sales areas,” Wright said.

Heading into fall, she said menus are being revamped with healthier a la carte offerings. Wright said she is working with principals on vending contracts. District 6 U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell said that while he appreciated the benefits of instilling healthy habits in children, he believes it’s a job that should be left to parents, not legislators.

“It is certainly not the role of Washington regulators to be making these sorts of decisions,” he said, “and handing down mandates that increase costs to our communities without necessarily increasing the well-being of our students.”

Chris Dibling West, owner of the Goddard School at 11225 Woodstock Road in Roswell, said her school has placed an emphasis on healthy eating for quite some time.

“Our guidelines have always met and exceeded USDA guidelines,” she said. “At our particular school, we actually have three gardens … we’ve been using some of the fresh fruit and vegetables to supplement our snacks.”

Recently, her school partnered with Kennesaw caterer ChefAdvantage. She said the arrangement gives her school a proactive edge, yet she still anticipates the standards impacting her bottom line.

“Whenever there’s a mandate that comes down from the government, there are additional costs entailed,” West said.

The regulations do allow afterschool sales of soda, candy and popcorn at extracurricular events. Under the standards, schools may sell junk food from 30 minutes after the end of an instructional day until midnight.

The regulations do not prevent students from bringing their own snacks to school.

More information on the standards can be found at www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/smart-snacks-school.

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