Today’s mission: Seek out snack items in The Star’s in-house commissary that would slip past public schools’ healthy-snack-enforcement squads — if they were to employ such a thing.
They certainly havenew rules
, handed down by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Beginning July 1, it will extend regulations beyond breakfast and lunch to all food and drinks sold during the school day.
No more PTA a la carte lunchtime cookie booths. No more fundraising candy sales — until 30 minutes after classes are out.
Handily, theAlliance for a Healthier Generation has created a food product calculator
to help novices navigate nutrition’s complicated world.
For the most part, I gathered items I thought had a chance. No sodas, fatty chips or candy bars.
Here was an easy start — an orange. It’s a snack,click. A fruit, click. Fresh fruit, click
Bingo. It’s compliant. No calculations needed.
It quickly gets dicier.
The calculator wants details in considering a Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain apple cinnamon cereal bar. I plug in serving size, calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated and trans fat, sodium, grams of sugars, and ...click
. Congratulations. Compliant.
How about a Clif Bar energy bar? It is, its packaging says, nutrition for sustained energy made of organic oats and peanut butter.
Click, click, click
Not compliant. Calories exceed 200. Sodium exceeds 230 mg.
Now Nestle’s Skinny Cow Heavenly Crisp candy bar. Its packaging boasts loudly it is only 110 calories, which at least gives it a chance.
Nope. Turns out the calories from total fat exceed 35 percent, the calories from saturated fat exceed 10 percent, and sugar exceeds 35 percent by weight.
You can have your low-fat yogurt, but not your salted peanuts. Negative on chips, even baked.
For those fearing withdrawals, the USDA isn’t blocking those celebration treats that parents or teachers bring in and give to their students, like birthday cupcakes or pizza parties.
But the school dietitians of the world and the USDA certainly intend to keep pushing in the direction of good health.
“We shouldn’t be using food as the punishment or the prize,” said Kansas City Public Schools dietitian Steven Newman.
District wellness policies, passed at the local school board level, will be suggesting and encouraging healthier ways to reward kids or entice parents into the schools.
The days of “Doughnuts for Dads” are numbered.
“Muffins for Moms” could survive — provided they’re whole-grain.