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Nutrition Guidelines for Schools 

This morning, the Institute of Medicine released a report called Nutrition Standards for Food in Schools: Leading the Way Towards Healthier Youth. The document was commissioned by Congress in an effort to fight the obesity epidemic in our nation's youngsters. It's a set of guidelines for schools around foods which "compete" with school lunches. Think soda and chips from a vending machine or Slim Jims from a school store. None of this is's just suggestions, for now. But new laws could be proposed based on the information. 

I didn't have time to read all 300 pages, so I downloaded the "brief." There's also an article about it on MSNBC.

Basically, the IOM divides acceptable foods into two tiers. The first tier is "healthy stuff" like fruit, veggies, yogurt and whole-grain products. Kids can get this stuff whenever. The second includes items that are a little more indulgent, but still meet designated health criteria. The IOM suggests that Tier 2 stuff be restricted to High School students and only available after school.

Now, some people get all upset about any type of food restriction, like the moms in Britain who smuggled fast food to their kids after it was banned from school. But, while I think the food pyramid is wonky and wrong in lots of ways, I do think this is a move in the right direction. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that children have an unalienable right to drink Coca Cola and eat Snickers Bars whenever they want to.

I know how hard I crash after I eat lots of sugar...makes it harder to do calculus and conjugate Latin verbs. And really committed junk food junkies can still bring stuff in from's just recommended that schools not sell it.

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Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Former contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the first Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a... more


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