The district is getting a head start on the new United States Department of Agriculture rules for snacks and drinks, although the deadline for implementation isn’t until the 2014-2015 school year.
The new limits set forth by the USDA include 200 calories per portion, 230mg of sodium for the first two years and 200mg of sodium starting in the 2016-2017 school year, and food that either meets a food group requirement or contains 10 percent of the daily value of one of four nutrients of public health concern.
Rules for drinks are also included in the new stipulations.
Milk and juice will have size limits, while other beverages will have a set calorie limit of 40 calories per eight ounces with a 12-ounce size limit.
These new guidelines will also cover vending machines, snack carts and school stores.
Cleveland School District Assistant Superintendent Brenda Ellis, in charge of Federal Programs and Support Services, said, “We have Wellness Councils established at all campuses and have been working toward healthier lifestyles for several years. We still have room for improvement but we have come a long way.”
Each school campus has a representative on the District Wellness Council.
The CSD is working with Valeria Hawkins of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, who helps guide them in writing action plans and keeping up-to-date on current trends and policies.
According to Ellis, “Research indicates that our students perform better academically when they are healthier just as they attend school more regularly when they are healthy.”
The district has also implemented physical education in elementary schools and developed curriculum and fitness activities that teachers can use with students to help stay focused.
“The food and nutrition component is the next step in teaching our children to live healthier lives,” said Ellis.
The USDA helps institute several programs nationwide that provide healthy food to children, including the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and the Special Milk Program.
Administered by State agencies, each of these programs helps fight hunger and obesity by reimbursing organizations such as schools, childcare centers and after-school programs for providing healthy meals to children.
For more information on the USDA, visit www.fns.usda.gov.