Food Outside The Cafeteria

Parents know that kids are given or can purchase foods throughout the school day, not just during breakfast and lunch.  These foods and beverages may be sold in vending machines, school stores, and by students and PTAs/PTOs to fundraise. Classroom celebrations often include food and beverages; teachers may reward students with treats, pizza parties, and coupons for ice cream.  Until now, the foods served and sold outside the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, commonly referred to as “competitive foods”, were completely unregulated.  With the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, new standards are being introduced for the first time that will require these foods to meet certain nutrition standards.  The rule isn’t final yet but the proposed rule has been published; for more information, visit the USDA’s website.

In the meantime, there is still plenty to do to improve the food environment in schools outside the cafeteria. In the pages linked below you can learn about competitive foods in schools and get ideas about what you can do to make sure they contribute to student health: