The United States Department of Agriculture continues its efforts to create a healthier generation with the introduction of "Smart Snacks in Schools" nutrition standards.
"Starting in school year 2014-15, all foods sold at school during the school day will need to meet nutrition standards. The Smart Snacks in School regulation applies to foods sold a la carte, in the school store, and vending machines."
The foods Smart Snacks affects, known as "competitive foods," are those foods that students can purchase oustide the cafeteria, such as at school stores or vending machines.
Education Week's article "Schools Brace for Launch of Federal Snack Rules" evaluates how the new requirements play into everyday school life.
There has been growing concern that as schools make their main meals healthier and up to nutrition standards set by federal law, sometimes unhealthy options still remain available, which allows students "to bypass fresh salads for high-fat nachos from the à la carte line."
"Because the snack policy is an interim final rule, the USDA could make adjustments based on feedback from schools during the first year of implementation. The agency has given similar flexibility with its meal requirements, delaying or revising those rules after they were put into place."
So what does this mean for school stores who sell snacks like chips and candy? They will have to find other enticing snacks to sell to students or seek other creative fundraising options.
Communication and collaboration will be vital when implementing these new rules. First, the new nutrition standards should be posted wherever food is available for purchase, reminding students and staff alike of the standards and their importance.
Communicate with student organizations that run the school store and the staff that supervise in order to determine what to stock the store with. Alternative snacks will be necessary. A number of tools and resources from the USDA are available to help schools identify food items that meet Smart Snacks criteria:
School stores may consider infusing their shelves with other merchandise, such as bumper stickers, personalized vinyl decals, and other school spirit promotions. The VariQuest Awards Maker creates customized stickers and awards instantly, while the Cutout Maker can create vinyl clings for windows, doors, etc.