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Congress takes action to upgrade school food laws; vending machines targeted

Tuesday, April 10, 2007 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: vending machines, health news, Natural News

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A bill has been introduced into the Senate by Tom Harkin of Iowa and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska that would close loopholes in federal regulations for the sale of food on school grounds. The law would update the regulations to meet current nutrition science and apply them to vending machines for the first time.

• The Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act would update the definition of "minimal nutritional value," the standard that foods must meet to be sold on school campuses. The definition has not been updated since 1979.

• The bill would apply the same standard to foods sold anywhere on school grounds. Current regulations only apply to foods sold in school cafeterias.

• According to the Government Accountability Office, 83 percent of elementary schools, 97 percent of middle schools, and 99 percent of high schools have vending machines, snack bars or school stores. The most commonly purchased items from these non-cafeteria sources are sugary drinks, salty snacks, fatty baked goods, and candy.

• The Harkin-Murkowski bill has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Diabetes Association, the American Dietetic Association, the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, and the School Nutrition Association.

• An identical bill is expected to be introduced into the House of Representatives.

• Quote: "School breakfast and lunch programs adhere to strong guidelines, but as soon as students leave the cafeteria, they are inundated with the over-promotion of junk food in vending machines and snack bars. This undercuts our investment in school meal programs and steers kids toward a future of obesity and diet-related disease. We must update nutritional guidelines across the board." - Tom Harkin

Bottom line

• A bill has been introduced into the Senate that would require all foods sold on school grounds, including from vending machines, to meet a basic nutritional standard.

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