Your days of avoiding healthful school lunches and filling up on cookies from the vending machine are numbered. The government is onto you.
For the first time, the U.S. Agriculture Department is telling schools what types of snacks they can sell. The new restrictions fill a gap in nutrition rules that allowed students to load up on fat, sugar and salt despite guidelines for healthful meals.
“Parents will no longer have to worry that their kids are using their lunch money to buy junk food and junk drinks at school,” said Margo Wootan, a Center for Science in the Public Interest lobbyist who pushed for the new rules.
That doesn’t mean schools will sell only broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Snacks that make the grade include granola bars, low-fat tortilla chips, fruit cups and 100 percent fruit juice.
But starting in the fall of 2014, say goodbye to beloved school standbys such as doughy pretzels, chocolate chip cookies and those little ice cream cups. Some may survive in low-fat or whole-wheat versions.
There are no vending machines at Lauren Jones’s middle school in Hoover, Alabama, but she said there’s a stand that sells chips and ice cream.
“Having something sweet to go with your meal is good sometimes,” said Lauren, who is 13.
The Agriculture Department didn’t apply the rules to one sugary school tradition: bake sales. A decision on those will be left to the states.