Getting to Know the Competitive Food Rule

Getting To Know The Competitive Food Rule

Fri 15 Mar 2013

Story by The Food Revolution Team

What The Competitive Food Rule Means for School Snacks and How You Can Help!

This past week we held an amazing live conversation via a Google+ Hangout which focused on the US Department of Agriculture’s new Competitive Food Rule – which applies to snack food and beverages sold outside of the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs.

During the conversation we were joined by school food experts Jessica Donze Black, Director of the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, Margo Wootan, Director of Nutrition Policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Lisa Creighton, Senior Program Coordinator, Nutrition, Hunger and Physical Activity, NEA and Bag the Junk, and Monifa Bandele, Campaign Director from MomsRising. The conversation was moderated by Jo Creed, from the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.

All of the participants shared important knowledge and insights about the rule and what we should all do to help make sure that this rule impacts real and meaningful change in schools nationwide. Here are some of the highlights:

• “Right now standards vary place to place, so a lot of kids are in school districts where there aren’t very many healthy options available, so this national set of standards will ensure that all kids, in all school districts, and in all states around the country will have healthy foods in vending machines, a la carte, school stores, and everywhere on campus for the whole school day.” Margo Wootan

• “It’s going to bring all schools up to a more reasonable place in regards to what they sell so that all parents can feel more confident.” Jessica Donze Black

• “We are going to have the opportunity to see really exciting new foods in schools like carrots and humus as a snack or nuts and dried fruits and trail mix or low fat yogurt.” Lisa Creighton

• “Some schools have chosen not to have a snack line and just offer a full meal, and those schools oftentimes do better financially where they are not luring kids away from the reimbursable meal so they get the kids’ lunch money and additional reimbursement from the USDA, both cash reimbursement and commodities.” Margo Wootan

• “When kids don’t have access to snacks and treats, they are more likely to purchase a school meal, which is better for the school budget. Their net revenue actually goes up.” Jessica Donze Black

• “The problem with sports drinks is that they are marketed by athletes but the imported component of that is that they are athletes that work out vigorously for many, many hours a day which is much more than what the majority of kids are doing in schools.” Lisa Creighton

• “We have to let parents know that this will not eliminate snacks or the a la cart line, but it is really just replacing it with healthier things that can also raise money.” Monifa Bandele

• “Individual schools can set their own higher standards, and we’ve seen so many success stories of just an individual school that set really high standards and because they’re working with the entire school community they are very successful because the children are supported with these new diets that for many of them they may just be trying out.” Monifa Bandele

• “Parents can work with their schools towards these standards so that it is not a total shock when the national rule is put in place.” Margo Wootan

• “It’s really important to comment on these rules and if you think that schools should go above and beyond and cut down on sugary drinks and sports drinks then make that clear when commenting to the USDA.” Jo Creed

The comment period for this rule is open until April 9th and anyone who cares about kids, the types of foods that are available in schools and the broader food education message should comment on this rule.

Find out more about the rule and how you can act here.

Watch the full video of this great conversation here.

The Food Revolution Team


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