United Fresh applauds USDA's Smart Snacks in School standards to improve the nutritional quality of foods and beverages offered for sale to students in schools. The new nutrition standards apply to all foods and beverages sold a la carte, in school vending machines, stores, and snack bars and must be implemented by July 1, 2014.
The new standards will increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy products for sale to students, and reduce the amount of calories, fat, sodium, and sugar. Designed to be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines, foods available for sale will now complement healthier school meals and help create healthier school food environments for our nation's school children.
“Increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks in schools will go a long way towards creating a healthy school food environment and improving nutrition for 32 million school children,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United’s vice president of nutrition and health.”In addition, this will drive opportunities for increased produce sales to schools, especially for fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables in convenient single servings.”
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This new school snack standard complements and supports the recent improvements to school meals and underscores United’s commitment to improving child nutrition. The landmark new school lunch regulations, which were implemented at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, doubled the amount of fruits and vegetables served every day and emphasized providing a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each week.
United Fresh has championed healthier school food environments over the past decade. United is the lead advocate for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides a fresh fruit and vegetable snack to more than 4 million low-income elementary school children every day. The Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign, of which United is a founding member, also aims to increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption and has donated salad bars to more than 2,500 schools to help achieve that goal.
United Fresh will work with our members, nutrition advocates and stakeholders to maximize opportunities for schools to offer students more fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables options.