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El Paso County Colorado District 49

Schools: bring on the fruits and veggies

The United States Department of Agriculture voted to change nutritional requirements for all food and beverages sold on school campuses during the school day. While the ruling is an interim ruling, the effective date is Aug. 27, with full implementation scheduled for July 1, 2014; according to the June 28 Federal Register from the USDA.ìThe law will impact every school in our nation that participates in the National School Lunch Program,î said Monica Deines-Henderson, director of nutrition services for Falcon School District 49.ìEach school will have to be in compliance with every food thing they sell on the school campus. Anywhere that the school claims as their property is considered part of the campus ñ anywhere a school holds operations or maintains property.îDeines-Henderson said the new ruling stipulates calorie, sodium, fat and sugar maximums on every food item; and, no matter what the food item is, the No. 1 ingredient has to be whole-grain rich, a fruit, a vegetable or a combination of whole-grain rich and fruits or vegetables.Each school will have to include labels on all the products they sell, even at the school stores where students buy snacks, Deines-Henderson said. ìThey (the schools) have to keep the labels and everything on file,î she said. ìThey have to make sure everything they sell complies.ìThe school day is defined as midnight until 30 minutes after the final bell.îThe ruling could also impact concessions sold at sporting events after school, she said. Fundraisers will also be affected because the items need to be in compliance, if students are selling them on school campuses during the school day.Brittany Sutton, a sophomore at Vista Ridge High School, said the new ruling will cause problems. ìIf we have fundraisers, we canít do it (sell to other students),î she said. ìI did fundraising and everybody bought stuff because the vending machines arenít open during school, so they bought from me.îSutton said she doesnít think itís going to help kids make healthier food choices. ìTheyíll still bring whatever they want from home, and no one can do anything about it,î she said. Deines-Henderson said many vendors that provide food for the district are getting on board with the new ruling. ìThey are reformulating their products to comply with it because the ruling also looks at how the food is packaged and how many servings are in a package,î she said. ìLike a bag of chips has to be less than 200 calories prepackage, if thereís only one serving in the package. Vendors are also working to put just a single serving in everything.îTyson, PepsiCo, FritoLay and Schwanís, among others, are some of the companies working toward meeting the standards of the ruling.ìWe have already eliminated processed foods from our school lunches,î Deines-Henderson said. ìItís helping expose children to healthier food items than what they might get in other aspects of their lives. Itís always good to put healthy food choices in front of a child, but we need to help them make good food choices. By changing the way things are, weíre still enticing them to buy them (food items) by saying, ëHey, did you look at this? This is really good.í ìWe need to help them learn better instead of just dictating. Itís going to be a shock for our culture.î

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