Several leading snack-food makers have entered into a voluntary agreement to provide healthier options for school vending machines as part of an agreement with former President Clinton’s foundation and the American Heart Association.
Campbell Soup Co., the Dannon Co., Kraft Foods Inc., Mars Inc., and PepsiCo Inc. have agreed to reformulate some of their products and develop new products, while encouraging support of the guidelines by vending machine servicing firms and schools. The guidelines would apply to snacks sold throughout schools, including in school stores, snack carts, and by students as fundraisers.
The agreement is similar to one announced in May between soft drink companies, on one side, and the William J. Clinton Foundation and the heart association, which have partnered in an initiative called the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, based in New York City. The soft drink companies involved in that agreement—Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages, Coca-Cola Co., and PepsiCo Inc.—have more control over what goes into vending machines than snack-food companies do, however. All the snack makers said, though, that they would encourage vending-machine operators and schools to stock the healthier options.
“What we are setting in motion with these guidelines will dramatically change the kind of food that children have access to at school,” Mr. Clinton said when the agreement was announced on Oct. 6.
Such agreements come at a time of rising concern about childhood obesity and attention to schools’ part in fostering better nutrition.
Vendors on Board?
The guidelines for snacks say that such foods should follow a “35-10-35” format: no more than 35 percent of calories from total fat, no more than 10 percent from saturated fat, and no more than 35 percent sugar by weight. The guidelines also specify that the foods must be free of trans fats, which are linked to high cholesterol, and have no more than 230 milligrams of sodium per serving. Certain foods with other nutrients can be exceptions to those general guidelines, including fruits and vegetables, dairy products, nuts, seeds, soups, and eggs.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health-advocacy group in Washington that had threatened to sue soft drink companies before the agreement announced in May, said the latest agreement was “benevolent” but didn’t go far enough.
“It’s schools and vending-machine companies who decide what to stock in school vending machines, and they aren’t parties to this agreement,” Margo G. Wootan, the director of nutrition policy for the group, said in a statement. “These voluntary guidelines shouldn’t be seen as a substitute for strong federal action to get junk food out of schools.