Local schools say the new federal Smart Snacks in Schools guidelines will have minimal impact on their operations when they re-open this week. Most were out in front in the effort to improve the content of school food.
“We’re actually a year ahead of the new standards,” said Todd Bedenbaugh, student nutrition director for Lexington/Richland District 5. “We serve only healthy snacks in our vending machines – water, flavored water and 100 percent juice – and have implemented that for some time now.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture came out with the Smart Snack guidelines in July, calling for school cafeterias and vending machines to offer more of the good-for-you foods with whole grains, low fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Out is the bad stuff high in fat, sugar and sodium. Also, portion size is to be based on age-group.
Schools were given a year to meet the new nutrition standards. Most districts in South Carolina say they will need to make only minor tweaks.
Lexington 1, for instance, is switching this year from standard Gatorade to low-calorie G2 Gatorade, and from homemade sweet tea and lemonade to Crystal Light tea and lemonade, according to district spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill.
Students might miss the sweet tea, but they otherwise shouldn’t taste much of a difference.
For more information: Visit the USDA website http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/governance/legislation/allfoods.htm