Overhauling cafeteria lunches was the first step to making schools healthier for children. Soon, schools will also be free of junk food marketing.
Reinforcing Healthy Messages
On Tuesday, First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Tom Vilsack announced new school wellness guidelines that would ensure marketing to children at schools would not conflict with the healthier lunches and snacks provided.
As part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, sugary, salty, fatty foods formerly on lunch trays and available in vending machines have been replaced with more fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
To eliminate conflicting messages about diet, it stands to reason that school vending machines shouldn’t be branded by Pepsi, and fast food shouldn’t be marketed to children within school walls.
Proposed rules would ban cups, posters and menu boards from advertising food that doesn’t meet health standards, like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s. After-school activities, however, will not be affected.
Guidelines And Combating Hunger
The USDA has given schools a grace period, so major construction—like replacing a scoreboard branded with Coca-Cola—wouldn’t need to be done immediately. But when the scoreboard is replaced, it must meet the new requirements.
Schools can still collaborate with fast food restaurants on fundraisers, whereby part of the dining proceeds go to the school, but the marketing of such events must be done off campus and clearly target adults.
Schools are also allowed to weigh in on incentives like Pizza Hut’s Book It! program, where children are given vouchers for pizza in exchange for reading.
Finally, the announcement included news that 22,000 schools across the country serving primarily low-income students will offer free breakfast starting July 1.