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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Healthy kids could use healthy school food

Posted By on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 at 11:40 AM

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The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Woods Foundation have produced a report on the underwhelming effort by U.S. secondary schools to provide healthy snack foods.

Said the Pew Trusts:

The majority of our nation’s secondary schools do not sell fruits and vegetables in school stores, snack bars, or vending machines, according to a report released today.

Most public schools implemented healthier meals this fall under the USDA’s revised meal standards. Those regulations did not cover snack foods and beverages, making them the next frontier in ensuring students have access to healthy options in school. The USDA is poised to issue policies requiring that foods and beverages sold outside of the federal school meals program meet minimum nutrition standards. View our infographic to see the current snack food environment compared to what it could look like with updated nutrition standards.

Here's the full report. It includes break-out charts on the states and Arkansas doesn't do so well.

* Arkansas fell below the median of 28.2 percent in the percentage of schools that sold fresh fruit in snack bars, vending machines and school stores. It ranked 45th, with 16 percent of schools selling fruit.

* Arkansas fell below the median of 18.9 percent in the percentage of schools that sold non-fried vegetables as snacks. It ranked 44th, with 8.9 percent selling non-fried vegetables.

On sale of unhealthy snacks, Arkansas did better. It ranked 16th from the lowest on sale of cookies, crackers, baked goods and such at 22.5 percent of schools. It ranked identically on sale of salty snacks. It ranked 17th lowest in sale of chocolate candy, at 15.3 percent, and 15th lowest in other types of candy, at 17 percent.

Our stature eroded on sale of soft drinks — 27th lowest with sales at 30.4 percent of secondary schools.

Good news, too, is the dramatic improvement of Arkansas in the rankings since 2002, when about 70 percent of the schools sold soft drinks and unhealthy snacks. A variety of state initiatives have pushed schools to healthier offerings since then.

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