When school begins next September, it will be a little more difficult for kids to drink soda pop and eat a candy bar in place of the school lunch.
The so-called junk food amendment to the Child Nutrition Act, proposed by Sen. Clifford Case (R-N.J.), returns authority for deciding what can be sold in vending machines on school property to the Secretary of Agricultural. And the current Secretary, Bob Bergland, has said that as far as he is concerned, "candy and soda pop are candidates for banishment" from the machines. He also included other "highly sugared dessert-type items," but is not ready to comment on the future status of potato chips, pretzels and ice cream.
The louse-Senate Conference on the Child Nutrition Act regulates the school lunch and breakfast programs as well as what competitives foods may be sold at schools. It voted to let the Agriculture Secretary make such decisions instead of the local school jurisdictions in spite of lobby efforts by manufacturers of soft drinks and candy as well as the vending machine industry.
Exactly what will be found in the vending machines next year is not all clear. According to Bergalnd the department is seeking advise from school food service people and from the public as well.
Grace Ostenso, director of Nutrition Technical Services Staff at USDA, said if she "had her way, potato chips would be eliminated because of the salt issue and the fat issue." But there seems no question in her mind that soda pop and candy should go. Ostenso sees "all kinds of problems" in attempting to draw up a list of nutritious foods. Part of the problem is that some perfectly acceptable foods, such as apples, do not contain a lot a vitamins and minerals while some manufactured foods, which have a great deal of added sugar also have been fortified with vitamins and minerals.
The challenge is to set standards that omit the foods high in added sugar and fat. Bergland said instead of standards, "We may have to develop a list by items." Several items sure to be on it include whole fruit juices, fruits and vegetables.
The forces that have been trying to eliminate "junk food" from schools for four years now said they finally won this year because they kept fighting and because of a "growing interest generally in prevention and health matters."