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New nutritional standards begin this year

TRI-COUNTY AREA--Starting this school year, all foods sold at school will need to meet a new set of nutritional standards. The Smart Snacks in School regulation applies to foods sold a la carte, in the school store and vending machines. These standards are required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 beginning in the 2014-15 school year.
Prior to the implementing of the Smart Snacks rule, 39 states already had some sort of nutrition standards in place for their schools. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the Smart Snacks in School program is intended to not only offer healthy food to students, but also limit the amount of junk food available to them. The snacks available should contain less empty calories and contain more nutritional value.
Dundee Superintendent Kelly Houck said the schools "will still be providing high-quality meals but [also] meet the guidelines" directed by the USDA. She said while the regulations will make things slightly more difficult in regards to the district's purchasing of food, most students "will not really recognize the changes." Houck said there will be no increase in food prices for the students as a direct result of this program, adding most of the changes will take place on the back side of the lunchroom operations.
The USDA's new standards say any food sold in schools must "be a 'whole grain-rich' grain product, have as the first ingredient a fruit, vegetable, dairy product or a protein food, be a combination of food that contains at least a quarter cup of fruit or vegetable, or contain 10 percent of the daily value of calcium, potassium, vitamin D or dietary fiber."
The standards also place a 200 calorie limit on snack items and a 350 calorie limit on entree items. The sodium limits on foods include a 230 milligram limit on snacks and a 480 milligram limit on entrees. Less than 35 percent of calories can be total fat, while less than 10 percent of calories can be saturated fat. The limit on trans fat is 0 grams. The sugar limit in foods is less than or equal to 35 percent of the weight from total sugars in foods.
For beverages, the USDA allows schools to sell water, low fat milk, fat free flavored milk and 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice. The USDA recommends elementary schools sell up to eight-ounce portions for milk or juice while middle and high schools sell up to 12-ounce portions. The standards allow now more than 20-ounce portions of flavored or carbonated beverages that contain less than five calories per eight fluid ounces or less than 10 calories per 20 fluid ounces. No more than 12-ounce portions of beverages with less than 40 calories per eight fluid ounces or less than 60 calories per 12 fluid ounces.

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