In a letter sent last week to the Iowa Department of Education, IDFA urged the school board to reconsider proposed updates to nutritional standards for the foods and beverages sold in the state's schools. IDFA expressed concern that proposed constraints on milk would not apply to sports drinks and flavored waters and could end up lowering milk consumption in schools.
Last year the Iowa state legislature passed the Healthy Kids Act, requiring the Department of Education to set physical activity requirements for students and nutritional standards for foods and beverages sold or provided on school grounds. Federal feeding programs, foods sold for fundraising, and foods and beverages sold at concession stands are exempt.
IDFA questioned the reasoning behind allowing sports drinks and flavored waters to have no calorie limits, to use non-nutritive sweeteners and to be sold in a variety of sizes. In contrast, the proposal sets strict calorie limits for milk to be imposed over time, limits milk servings to smaller sizes and bans the use of non-nutritive sweeteners in milk.
"Milk is at a significant disadvantage compared to these fiercely marketed beverages under your proposal, and it could result in even less milk consumption per student," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO, in the letter. "We urge you not to pass these regulations as proposed and would welcome the opportunity to provide suggestions on how they could be improved."
IDFA sent the letter in response to the department's call for comments and a public hearing held February 3 to gather input on the proposal. According to the Healthy Kids Act, school districts would be required to implement any new standards in time for the 2009-2010 school year.
Members with questions may contact Ruth Saunders, IDFA senior director of policy and legislative affairs, at email@example.com or 202-220-3553.