N.H. gets an ‘F’ for school nutrition
New Hampshire schools earned an ‘F’ for current nutrition policies, according to a recent study conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest – a grade received by 22 other states.
The study, released June 20 and conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based food safety and nutrition advocacy organization, examines district policies governing foods and beverages sold in the schools, alongside federally subsidized school lunch programs, via vending machines, school stores and a-la-carte distributors.
Findings were based on nutrition standards, grade levels, hours and campus locations to which each state’s policies applied.
The use of outdated USDA policies caused New Hampshire to be among the 45 percent of schools earning failing grades for its nutritional policies.
According to CSPI, disallowing only ‘foods of minimal nutritional value,’ to be served in the cafeteria during mealtime, the current USDA policy, does not regulate foods or beverages based on calories, saturated fat, trans fat, refined sugars or sodium levels, nor does it include any nutritional standards for food of drink sold outside the cafeterias or sold at times other than meal time.
‘Although some local school districts have school foods policies that are far better than the state standards, far too many states allow way too much junk food,’ said SCPI nutrition policy director, Margo G. Wootan. ‘Schools should be one place where parents don’t have to worry about what their kids are eating.’
Worrying about food intake during the school day could be a thing of the past for New Hampshire parents.
Elaine Van Dyke, director of school nutrition in the state Department of Education, a national wellness policy that goes into effect on July 1 will have an impact.
The law, the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, states that updated nutritional guidelines in the schools must be established by participating schools by the beginning of the school year. Many have already enacted changes, Van Dyke said.
‘Our schools are working diligently to meet the new legislative requirements,’ Van Dyke said. ‘The schools are really coming to the plate and we’ve got some great policies there.’ – TRACIE STONE