Parents across the United States are concerned about the food served in schools and rightfully so. With so much sugary, fatty, low nutrition food offered at educational institutions, parents might wonder if allowing the kiddos to select whatever food they wish is such a wise move. Worse, some states offer little or no oversight of school food and often sell based strictly on business deals and little more. Is there a way to know what, if any, restrictions exist and how they are enforced?
Regulations on Types of Food
There is, in fact, a very useful resource that makes it easy to find out what rules and regulations exist for school foods in your state. The resource is called Bridging the Gap and, with a little help from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, it has created a very useful tool that spells out, in graphic form, the laws that govern school food from place to place and from food source to food source. Most states, it turns out, are very lenient when it comes to, say, the food items served at in- class parties. But most states invoke greater restrictions on the food that is sold a- la- carte, in vending machines, etc. By visiting this resource:
And clicking the link “Explore Data”, you can quickly see which states have no laws, weak laws, strong laws, and outright bans in different areas of the school food menu.
What a Difference a State Makes
Bridging the Gap offers a complete rundown on the school food laws in each state. Once you finish looking at the “Explore Data” link described above, be sure to visit the link for “State Profiles.” Here, you can see exactly what the limits are within each food category. For example, your state might allow vending machines, but still have significant restrictions on what can be sold in those machines. The same is true with other areas of the school food menu and Bridging the Gap is ready to let you know what kids can and cannot eat from one jurisdiction to the next and from one food source to the next.
The Battle for Health
Fighting the good fight and winning the battle for our children’s health is an ongoing crusade, but there are some useful resources to help parents stay informed. Bridging the Gap and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have teamed up to create a useful tool that helps parents stay in the know and find out exactly what food their children can and cannot buy at school. It’s a useful resource for parents who want to stay informed and take action for the health benefit of their children.
Copyright 2014, Bryan Carey