By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
The Mississippi Department of Education will now require snacks sold at school to meet the same nutritional standards as breakfast and lunch.
The education department voted and passed the rules last week that will apply to any foods sold either in vending machines or a la carte in the lunch line to the state’s 490,000 public school students.
Grain-based products must be at least 50 percent whole-grain. Other products must have fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein as a first ingredient. Fewer than 35 percent of calories must be from fat, and the rules limit sodium, sugar, caffeine and total calories.
Junk food fundraisers — like doughnuts, pizza and candy — are also out the door in Mississippi.
Many schools have already switched to healthier and non-food fundraisers, according to Katherine Bryant, government relations director for the American Heart Association in Mississippi.
Wanda Salley, child nutrition director for the Harrison County School District, said the standards will help kids struggling to make healthy eating choices at school.
“They sell during the morning hours, often causing students to spend their lunch money on junk,” she said. Without junk food options, she thinks kids will be hungrier at lunch and “more likely to eat the fruits, vegetables and protein sources, and to drink their milk, which will help our students become healthier.”
The Center for Science in the Public Interest said that schools in other states have shown that non-junk food fundraisers can bring in revenue. A fruit sale at a Colorado high school raised about $8,000 with fruit sales, and an elementary school in Georgia held a fun run that brought in $37,000.