Student Well-Being

Proposed Rules Aim to Curb Junk-Food Ads in Schools

March 04, 2014 3 min read

Schools may have to gradually phase out ads on their campuses for sugary drinks, salty snacks, and other unhealthy foods, under proposed new federal rules unveiled at the White House last week.

First lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the proposed regulations at a press conference held in tandem with the fourth anniversary of the first lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, a key focus of which has been to help schools and students make healthier choices.

The rules are meant to ensure that foods and beverages that are marketed to children in school align with the recent Smart Snacks in School standards, which established nutrition standards for foods other than those sold through federally subsidized lunch and breakfast programs, such as vending-machine fare and cafeteria a la carte items.

“Parents should be in control of their kids’ health,” said Mrs. Obama. “When parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn’t be undone by unhealthy messages at school.”

If they take effect with no major revisions, the rules will effectively ban advertisements for foods that do not meet federal nutrition guidelines during the school day. Such ads include those on vending machines, posters, menu boards, cups, and other food-service equipment. Schools that do not wish to comply with the guidelines would be dropped from the National School Lunch Program and forgo their corresponding government reimbursements.

Like the Smart Snacks rules, though, the guidelines would continue to make allowances for after-school events, such as bake sales and other fundraisers.

Some Caveats

The USDA would also leave some discretion to local districts. For example, the department’s guidelines would not require schools to replace existing scoreboards or other durable equipment that have logos for, say, Coca-Cola or other high-calorie beverages; the proposal recommends that, when the time comes to replace such equipment, schools comply with the new marketing standards.

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the guidelines would likely not have a significant financial impact on schools.

The draft rules were published Feb. 26 in the Federal Register and are open for comment until April 28, before the USDA finalizes them.

To help schools implement the proposed policies, the Agriculture Department will launch a “School Nutrition Environment and Wellness Resources” website with model wellness policies for districts and resources for on-campus food-marketing practices.

In a statement last week, the American Beverage Association, a Washington group representing makers of nonalcoholic refreshments, expressed its support for the proposed rules.

“We look forward to working with the USDA on their proposed rule to align food and beverage signage in schools with the new regulations as a logical next step,” said Susan Neely, the ABA’s president and CEO.

These rules are the latest effort by the Obama administration to improve children’s health and curb widespread obesity among schoolchildren by limiting the amount of calories, salt, and fat available during the school day.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, passed in December 2010, gave the U.S. agriculture secretary the authority to put forth new, healthier nutrition standards for federally subsidized school meals. It also made it easier for more low-income students to qualify for free lunches by certifying them using Medicaid data and eliminating paperwork requirements. And it created new training and certification requirements for school food-service personnel.

The school meal standards stirred controversy among federal lawmakers, especially those from potato-growing states, who succeeded in dialing back some of the standards, such as those limiting the number of servings of starchy vegetables in school meals.

At last week’s event, Mrs. Obama also highlighted the coming expansion of a school meals program that focused on low-income students. The “community eligibility” option, already in use in 11 states, has been rolled out incrementally since the 2011-12 school year.

Beginning July 1, schools nationwide whose populations are largely from low-income families will be eligible to serve free lunch and breakfast to every student.

A version of this article appeared in the March 05, 2014 edition of Education Week as Proposed Rules Seek to Limit Junk-Food Ads in Schools

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Safe Return to Schools is Possible with Testing
We are edging closer to a nationwide return to in-person learning in the fall. However, vaccinations alone will not get us through this. Young children not being able to vaccinate, the spread of new and
Content provided by BD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Meeting the Moment: Accelerating Equitable Recovery and Transformative Change
Educators are deciding how best to re-establish routines such as everyday attendance, rebuild the relationships for resilient school communities, and center teaching and learning to consciously prioritize protecting the health and overall well-being of students
Content provided by Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Addressing Learning Loss: What Schools Need to Accelerate Reading Instruction in K-3
When K-3 students return to classrooms this fall, there will be huge gaps in foundational reading skills. Does your school or district need a plan to address learning loss and accelerate student growth? In this
Content provided by PDX Reading

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Spotlight Spotlight on Student Health & Safety
In this Spotlight, assess what the data says and how educators can play a part in protecting their students, and more.
Student Well-Being Thousands of Kids Lost Parents to COVID-19. Schools Must Prepare to Help the Grieving
While some may view the back-to-school season as a return to “normal,” for those students who’ve lost someone, it will feel anything but.
9 min read
Vickie Quarles, a widow in Memphis, Tenn., lost her husband to COVID-19 in December 2020. She is now raising their five daughters alone. Her older daughter, Alyssa, 18, comforts her in their home.
Vickie Quarles, a widow in Memphis, Tenn., lost her husband to COVID-19 in December 2020. She is now raising their five daughters alone. Her oldest daughter, Alyssa, 18, comforts her in their home.
Karen Pulfer Focht for Education Week
Student Well-Being Nation's Pediatricians Call for All Students, Staff to Wear Masks in School
Countering recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, the physicians say even vaccinated students should wear face coverings
5 min read
Students are reminded to wear a mask amidst other chalk drawings on the sidewalk as they arrive for the first day of school at Union High School in Tulsa, Okla., on Aug. 24, 2020.
A sidewalk-chalk drawing reminds students to wear a mask as they arrive for the first day of school last August at Union High School in Tulsa, Okla.
Mike Simons/Tulsa World via AP
Student Well-Being The Pandemic and Politics Made Life Especially Rough for LGBTQ Youth, Survey Finds
More than 80 percent of 13- to 24-year-olds who say they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning said 2020 was very hard.
2 min read
People wave pride flags and hold signs during a rally in support of LGBTQ students at Ridgeline High School, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Millville, Utah. Students and school district officials in Utah are outraged after a high school student ripped down a pride flag to the cheers of other students during diversity week. A rally was held the following day in response to show support for the LGBTQ community.
People rally in support of LGBTQ students at Ridgeline High School on April 14, 2021, in Millville, Utah. The day before a high school student ripped down a pride flag to the cheers of other students during diversity week.
Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal via AP