For the first time, the federal government plans to regulate how food and beverages are marketed in public schools. This week the White House announced new regulations to guide allowable, nutrition promotion and physical activity policies in schools, often called "local wellness plans." Since 2006, wellness plans have been required for any school that participates in the National School Lunch and or the School Breakfast Program, but marketing has not been a required component of the plans.
The proposed regulations require that schools put in place marketing policies limiting food and beverage advertising in schools to products that are consistent with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrition standards for school meals and the recent "Smart Snacks in School" regulations. USDA defines food marketing to include "oral, written or graphic statement made for the purpose of promoting the sales of a food or beverage product."
"For dairy products, this means to be available and promoted in schools, they must be low-fat and fat-free milk, or comply with the new regulations that place limits on sodium, sugar and allowable fat," said Ruth Saunders, IDFA vice president for policy and legislative affairs. IDFA submitted comments on the Smart Snacks in School interim final rule last fall.
In 2010, Congress passed the "Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act," which expanded the scope of wellness plans to require more information, additional input from stakeholders and regular public updates. USDA will accept public comments over the next 60 days before finalizing the new regulation.
New Resources Available
The White House also announced a new "School Nutrition Environment and Wellness Resources" website that includes nutrition education material, information on food marketing practices, and model wellness policies.
"IDFA is pleased to see that these new resources include a number of nutrition messages developed for moms encouraging milk consumption," said Saunders. Click here to view milk-related core nutrition messages.
Community Eligibility Expansion
The nationwide expansion of the "Community Eligibility Option" program was also announced today. Beginning July 1st, this program makes it possible to significantly expand free participation in the school lunch and breakfast programs at 22,000 schools serving primarily low income students. This program is expected to significantly increase demand for milk and dairy products in schools. IDFA and NMPF jointly submitted comments supporting the expansion of the program earlier this year.
For more information about recent announcements contact Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 220-3553. For information about regulatory compliance issues, contact Michelle Matto at email@example.com.