Nearly all U.S. public schools sold “competitive” foods—snacks and other foods that aren’t part of federal school meals programs—to students in the 2003-04 school year, the Government Accountability Office says in a report released last week.
Nearly nine out of 10 schools offered such competitive foods in cafeteria lines, vending machines, or school stores, the report says.
From the 1998-99 school year to 2003-04, the percentage of middle schools offering competitive foods increased from 83 percent to 97 percent. Many schools make money on the competitive foods, the report notes.
While some of the foods are healthy, such as fresh fruits, others available at many middle schools and high schools are not, such as salty snacks and sweet baked goods, it says.
“Almost all schools sell readily available foods that are largely unregulated by the federal government in terms of nutritional content,” says the report, “Competitive Foods Are Widely Available and Generate Substantial Revenues for Schools.”
A version of this article appeared in the September 14, 2005 edition of Education Week