Federal Rules That Don't Bite
Schools participating in the National School Lunch Program, (and that means just about every public school in the country) will soon be required to develop "student wellness policies:"
"Gather up the kids for some good news: They might be waving goodbye to Skittle-enhanced math lessons, deep-fried chicken nuggets, after-school Cokes and leisurely recesses.There's much more to read over on pages two and three.
Next school year, they should find a more healthful environment at school.
In the fall, schools in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National School Lunch Program are required to have wellness policies addressing nutrition education, physical fitness and the healthfulness of all foods available at school -- including the lunchroom, vending machines and classrooms.
Previously, only lunches fell under USDA jurisdiction.
Each school district is being asked to develop wellness policies through an advisory board of parents, students, food service employees, school board members, school administrators and members of the public.
The nation's epidemic of childhood obesity prompted the law, part of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act June 2004, said USDA spokeswoman Jean Daniel.
"We all realized we're seeing overweight and obesity in children, and we realized there was a role schools could play in helping with the problem," she said.
The percentage of overweight children ages 12-19 more than tripled in the past 30 years, from 5 percent to 15.5 percent, according to the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools at George Washington University.
The law creates an opportunity for schools to eliminate the contradiction that sometimes exists between nutrition lessons and the food and drink items sold at school.
"It's not a gotcha' sort of thing," said Steve Forde, of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where the bill was written.
Usually, we're not in favor of additional federal regulations and the accompanying red tape, but as the problem of student obesity continues to worsen, it's becoming painfully obvious that many parents simply will not teach their children healthy eating habits. Somebody needs to do something.
The health of our nation's children depends on it.