Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Efforts to Govern School Snack Standards at the Federal Level

New York Times writer Kim Severson has written an article about the Farm Bill Amendment to define standards for snacks and drinks sold in schools: Effort to Limit Junk Food in Schools Faces Hurdles. Even if the Farm Bill doesn't pass, or passes without the amendment addressing foods sold outside the lunch program, sponsors say they will push to get it passed in some other way. The measure is controversial in that some think it is a good starting place for improving food in schools, and others wanting stronger measures and fewer exemptions for things like sports drinks. One of the touchiest issues is this:

"Although states would not be able to pass stronger restrictions, individual school districts could."
In different places, the battle to improve school food happens at different levels of decisionmaking, often based on where the climate is friendliest for change. If state legislatures are ready to take a stand on school food, they may be the place to enact the strictest rules on healthy food standards. In many places, schools or school districts may be where progress is being made. So the limitation of state power will be more problematic in some places than others. Though, as noted in the article, school district decisionmaking may also be affected by federal guidelines:
“My little fights in school districts are just going to be harder and harder because they’ll say, Well, here are the federal guidelines,” said Dr. Susan Rubin of Chappaqua, N.Y., a nutritionist who helped found the Better School Food advocacy group.
Any thoughts about how this will affect your efforts at improving school food?