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School Nutrition Standards Considered in State Legislatures

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School Nutrition Standards Considered in State Legislatures

June 13, 2007 -- Stringent nutrition standards for foods sold in schools were a hot button issue in many states during the 2007 legislative session.  Two states passed legislation, while four states are actively considering strengthening nutrition standards before then end of their legislative sessions.  In all, at least 13 states introduced bills that would regulate foods available to students during the school day.

New Jersey became the first state this year to adopt legislation setting standards for school foods.  The governor signed S. 1218 in February 2007, requiring all school districts to follow comprehensive guidelines for competitive foods sold during the school day. On May 30, 2007, Oregon passed legislation that sets nutrition standards for foods sold in schools outside of the reimbursable meal program.  The legislation is currently awaiting the governor’s signature.  H.B. 2650 creates strict nutrition standards for snack items and beverages sold through a la carte lines and vending machines for students in all grades before and after the school day.  Events exempt from these standards include functions involving adults or when items are sold before, during, or after a school play, concert, or sporting event.  School districts will have until September 2008 to comply with the guidelines. 

Both South Dakota and Mississippi passed legislation that strengthened local school wellness policies. South Dakota adopted a concurrent resolution requesting all school districts to follow the state’s model local school wellness policy guidelines in developing their own guidelines.  In Mississippi, S. 2369 was approved by the governor in April.  This legislation supports local school wellness policies, as well as creates a nutrition advisory committee.

Ohio is the most recent state to consider a school nutrition standards bill. In the beginning of June, legislation was introduced in the Ohio General Assembly that would create the Ohio Child Wellness Advisory Council.  According to the bill, H.B. 254, the council would be required to develop strategies to improve the nutritional value of food and beverages sold in a la carte lines.  The bill also strengthens local school wellness policies, as it requires school districts to prepare an annual report that details the district’s progress in meeting goals set in their policies.  Included in the legislation is a provision that allows the bill’s nutrition standards to be preempted should any standards be adopted by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The New York legislature is considering three bills that would govern nutrition standards for school foods.  One bill (HB 8743, S. 5892) seeks to expand access to healthy school meals and provides additional funding to child nutrition programs.  The legislation would establish the Children’s Healthy Access to Meals Program (CHAMP).  The CHAMP program would help school districts implement nutrition standards for items sold outside of the school meal program, as well as provide school districts with 10 cents per reimbursable school meal, starting with the 2008-2009 school year.  New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is also pushing legislation (HB 8642, S. 5942) that would create strong restrictions on both school meal and competitive food sales.  The comprehensive bill would eliminate trans fat from school meals, as well as set limits on sodium and cholesterol.  The legislation also requires schools to offer a vegetarian entrée.  Similar legislation was introduced earlier in the year; however, these bills do not affect reimbursable school meals (HB 7086, S. 4169).

Massachusetts is also reviewing a bill that would set nutrition standards for competitive foods.  HB 2168 sets guidelines for sodium and fat, as well as added sweeteners in beverages. The bill also requires school districts to post nutrition information for items that are not prepackaged.

High schools are the target of legislation being considered in Rhode Island.  H.B. 5050 and S. 81 would require all public high schools to begin offering healthier beverages and items starting in January 2008.  A hearing on H.B. 5050 was scheduled for June 13, 2007.

Several states introduced legislation this year that either died in committee or died with the close of the legislative session. Bills in Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa,Texas, and Washington State all died with the close of the legislative session.  Florida’s school nutrition standards bill died in committee.

Please keep checking SNA’s website for more information about state and federal regulations regarding school nutrition standards.  For additional information, please visit Related Links.


 
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