The Senate Agriculture Committee recently held a hearing on school nutrition that has inspired the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) to keep driving toward national action that will help get junk food out of the public school system. Congress could move this year to restrict junk food sales in public schools, while lawmakers search for a way to conquer the national epidemic of obesity.
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What you need to know - Conventional View
• The Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act calls on the USDA to update what CSPI says are "disco-era nutrition standards" for school foods (e.g., vending machines, school stores, and a la carte in the cafeteria).
• The Act would take the USDA's current standards of limiting the sale of foods of minimal value, currently applicable only to cafeterias during meal times, and extend it to apply throughout the school day and everywhere on school grounds.
• The USDA's current standards allow the sale of candy bars, cookies, and sugary fruit-flavored drinks containing very little real fruit juice, while disallowing things like seltzer water and breath mints.
• Despite increasing rates of obesity in children and teens, the Senate hasn't held a hearing on the sale of junk foods in schools since 2003.
• "Though many states and local school
districts are undertaking heroic efforts to improve the nutritional quality of foods sold in schools, the junk-food industry fights those efforts tooth and nail," said CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan.
• "The industry likes to say school foods should be subject to local controls," said Wootan, "yet it strikes back at the efforts of parents and health professionals when they try to act locally."
• Congress could pass a law which restricts junk food within the public school system.