Proposed federal food restrictions could change the makeup of the snacks available in Kentucky schools. It’s part of an ongoing effort to improve the eating habits of young people.
The new federal regulations are scheduled to go into effect about this time next year. The child nutrition program manager with the Kentucky Department of Education says they won’t result in monumental changes. But Sue Bartenfield adds some of the federal measures are more restrictive than current Kentucky law.
“The portion sizes of milk, juices, and beverages in elementary school, and in middle and high school are a little bit different from what we have in our regulation now,” Bartenfield said.
She says new sodium and calorie limits are also more restrictive than Kentucky’s current standards for school food.
Much of the focus is on vending machines. Bartenfield says state law already prohibits sales during the school day. But, the federal law would keep vending machines shut down a bit longer.
“It says the standards apply to all foods sold until 30 minutes after the end of the school day. That’s different from what we have right now. That’s more restrictive because ours say until the end of the school day, to the last instructional period. So it would just be continued 30 minutes longer,” Bartenfield added.
Students and educators aren’t the only people affected by the tighter restrictions. Bartenfield admits food processors might need to alter their production strategies.
“The food distributors, the food manufacturers are having to readjust their products to meet these criteria,” she said. “So that’s gonna be a big impact on the food service industry.”
The new federal restrictions are sure to be discussed when Bartenfield and the nation’s other school nutritionists gather in Kansas City this week for their national meeting.