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USDA Wants “Smart Snacks” In School Vending Machines

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Snacks and drinks with higher nutritional value are displayed. (credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Snacks and drinks with higher nutritional value are displayed. (credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When the U.S. Department of Agriculture mandated new nutrition standards for meals served in schools, the amount of snacks sold in vending machines went up significantly.

Officials with the department are addressing the issue with a proposed new Smart Snacks in School rule.

Kevin Concannon, UDSA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, said the new proposal will not prevent kids from bringing their own snacks to school. But, the new standards would apply to vending machines on school property.

Concannon said the offerings in those machines would be vastly different. “The snacks will have to have less sodium [and] less sugar. You’re more likely to have a granola bar than the typical sugar-doused candy bar.”

The Smart Snacks program would set nutrition standards and calorie limits for snack foods that are sold in schools.

Ag officials said the changes are meant to “improve the health and well-being of the nation’s children,” and help increase the amount of healthy food consumed during the school day.

“Our goal is to say, ‘Lets have more foods that we should encourage to children. Let’s have fewer foods that we would like to discourage kids from consuming,’” Concannon explained.

While the program has set limits on caloric intake it does allow “flexibility for important traditions.” So, treats brought for birthday parties, holidays and items sold for school fundraisers and through bake sales would not have to adhere to the restrictions.

The public can review the proposal and submit comments for USDA consideration during the 60-day public comment period.

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