Calorie Crackdown: New Rules Mean Healthy Snacks in School

Updated: 09/02/2014 6:51 PM
Created: 09/02/2014 4:16 PM
By: Josh Rosenthal

There are new rules your child will have to follow when buying a snack at school this year. It's part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Smart Snacks in School initiative.

For Kiki Ruddy and Nidesh Rana, third graders at St. Anthony Park Elementary School in St. Paul, that won’t be a problem.

"Actually my teacher talked about it," Ruddy said. "You can't bring any cupcakes or little things." Rana said his favorite snack food is apples.

In fact, St. Paul Public Schools made a lot of the changes mandated in the new initiative as far back as 2006. But now, schools across the country are required to make them.

"There's a list, a laundry list, of new regulations that these items must meet to be served during school hours," said St. Paul Public Schools Nutrition Specialist Angie Gaszak.

Among other things, there are now limits on calories, sugar, sodium and fat. So that means, no more buying candy bars from school vending machines that are over the 200 calorie limit.

"There were some chocolate bars, there were chips," explained Student Health and Wellness coordinator Mary Yackley.

"Mostly to get things in compliance it's just lowering that portion size," Yackley said.

St. Catherine University's Mark Blegan said he likes the new initiative overall and he thinks it could help kids make healthy choices, but he does see some room for improvement.

"Sometimes I think policy is a little bit behind some of the research," Blegan said, "where we're seeing research coming out on a daily basis that fat, to a certain level, is actually very healthy."

Back at school, we asked the kids what their snack of choice would be without the new rules. Rana stuck to the healthy stuff. Kiki, however, couldn't resist. "Probably marshmallows," she laughed. "I love marshmallows."

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