HEALTHY SNACKING

 

Superintendent’s Message
KIDS DESERVE SMART SNACKS

 

In 2010 Congress passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, resulting in new USDA nutrition standards for student meals and a la carte food choices. The GFPS School Food Department has worked hard to implement the new breakfast, lunch and a la carte guidelines and the District is in full compliance. We had an audit two weeks ago which identified no concerns in this area. Congratulations to the GFPS School Foods Department!

Another part of the Act, which went into full effect on July 1, 2014, deals with snacks provided at school. The Act, states that in order for any food, snack, or beverage to be sold to students during the school day, the product must meet certain nutritional requirements for calories, sugar, sodium, and fat. You can find the details of these requirements here: http://studentwellnessgfps.weebly.com/uploads/2/6/0/1/26012625/healthyfoodguidelines8-21-09_000.pdf

GFPS passed Board Policy addressing nutritional standards in 2006 because the District saw these changes coming. GFPS takes great pride in doing the right thing as we educate our students and the District has a history of taking proactive steps to provide the best learning environment for our students. This includes nutrition. You can Policy 2510 here: http://www.gfps.k12.mt.us/content/2000-series-instruction. The pertinent section in 2510 is under the “Nutrition Standards” heading. Please note that the GFPS policy goes further than the Act and states sold and served to students. The last sentence of the policy reads: The Superintendent is responsible for the implementation of this policy. With that in mind, I share the following with you regarding my beliefs around this important policy:

• GFPS must “Do No Harm” by contributing to the rise of childhood obesity and other chronic diseases. Childhood obesity is a serious concern as 1 in 3 children in America are obese . I think a case could be made that we do harm when we give empty, sugar-laden calories to children in the form of snacks and rewards.
• The food students get from us should contribute, not detract, from their well-being. With children consuming up to 50% of their daily caloric intake while at school, districts have an opportunity to make a dent in helping combat childhood obesity by improving the foods and beverages sold and served in school . Do we really think that a donut contributes to student wellbeing?
• The healthy choice should be the easy choice. School lunches across the country have gotten healthier with more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and less sugar, sodium, and fat. The new Smart Snacks guidelines ensure that the snack foods in schools are getting healthier too. IF we must provide food beyond breakfast and lunch, then the food choices we provide should be healthy. IF food is necessary, it’s probably just as easy to pick up a bag of apples or a box of yogurts that meet the guidelines as it is to pick up a box of maple bars.
• Smart snacks can help make smart kids. 78% of parents believe that healthier school food will improve the academic performance of children and this has been shown to be the case, as healthier children produce higher test scores, along with exhibiting better behavior and higher attendance .
• It’s the right thing to do. The majority of Americans support the recent school food changes, with 90% of Americans believing that local K-12 Schools should play the largest role in combating obesity .
• We can think differently about the food we give students and we should. I know we can be creative in finding ways to celebrate and reward students without food. If food is a necessary element, I know we can find healthy and satisfying offerings.
• We must do all we can to comply. There are tools to help you on the Student Wellness webpage: http://studentwellnessgfps.weebly.com/.

I know none of this is easy. Since July, I have been trying to walk the talk myself. I researched what healthy foods fuel my body and have worked hard to limit my diet to those things. There are temptations and sometimes I slip up. But by considering my food choices carefully, I have lost a few pounds without even trying, but more importantly, I feel better. I believe our kids deserve to fuel their bodies and minds with healthy choices too.

Take care. Stay safe. Be well.
Tammy

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adolescent and School Health. [Online] August 6, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm.

The Third School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study: Findings and Policy Implications for Improving the Health of US Children. Story, Mary. no 2, 2009, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Vol. 109, pp. S7-S13.

Kaiser Permanente. Nationwide Findings from the 2013 Kaiser Permanente Childhood Obesity Prevention Survey. 2013.

Kaiser Permanente. Nationwide Findings from the 2013 Kaiser Permanente Childhood Obesity Prevention Survey. 2013.