‘Smart Snack Law’: Federal bill will ban all ‘unhealthy’ food in schools, goes into effect July 1
by Haisten Willis
June 01, 2014 03:55 AM | 13691 views | 25 25 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — A federal law dubbed the “Smart Snack Law” goes into effect July 1, bringing with it bans on any snacks or drinks considered unhealthy by the federal government.

Gone will be non-diet soft drinks, cookies, fried potato chips and any other snack foods not meeting the new requirements. Also on the way out are products such as Chick-fil-A biscuits and doughnuts used as fundraisers, if they are sold during school hours.

The decision comes from Washington and can’t be changed by local leaders, but that doesn’t mean Cobb school board members can’t express their opinion.

“The government can’t stop obesity,” said Randy Scamihorn, vice chair of the Cobb Board of Education. “The kids are going to eat what they’re going to eat, and they’re not going to eat what they’re not going to eat. I’m against government intervention where it’s not needed, and I’m against kids made to go hungry by the government. If they’re hungry, they won’t learn to their optimum level.”

Rules come from USDA

The regulations are part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Smart Snacks in School” standards.

Under the new rules, foods must be “whole grain rich,” meaning they contain 50 percent whole grains or have whole grains as the first ingredient, or have as the first ingredient a fruit, vegetable, dairy product or protein-rich food. Snacks must be 200 calories or less, and entrees must be 350 calories or less. Snacks must have less than 230 milligrams of sodium, and the fat content in any food must be no more than 35 percent of its total calories, according to SmartSnacksinSchool.com.

Diet soft drinks and low-fat milk will still be allowed in limited quantities. Water can be served in unlimited amounts and children can still bring snacks to school from home if they choose.

The new regulations are meant to bring more nutrition to food served in schools, said Cynthia Downs, Cobb’s executive director of food and nutrition.

“School meals meet evidence-based nutrition standards, ensuring that meals are healthy, well-balanced and provide students the nutrition they need to succeed at school,” said Downs. “We continue to enhance our menu offerings to include healthful, kid-approved options. Our menus include quality brand-name products and locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. We’ve implemented monthly ‘try-days,’ which are an opportunity for students to try new items. Foods that pass the test are added to the menu.”

The measures are also meant to curb childhood obesity, which has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“By implementing consistent nutrition standards throughout the school, the hope is to enhance the learning environment and contribute to the overall health and well-being of our students,” said Downs.

The rules stem from the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which calls on the USDA to serve healthier food in schools. The first part of the act went into effect in 2012, requiring healthier school lunches. Scamihorn said he isn’t a fan of the change, either, but concedes the average person is powerless to stop it.

“We are fast becoming more socialistic than the former Soviet Union ever thought about being,” said Scamihorn. “The government doesn’t need to be in the business of telling parents and young adults what they should or shouldn’t eat. That’s so basic to the American way I don’t see how they’re getting away with it. They know we can’t do anything.”

Changes to school lunches made in 2012 are similar to the ones now being enforced on snack foods — less fat and sodium, more whole grains.

First lady’s impact on rules

Bob Barr of Smyrna and Barry Loudermilk of Bartow County are in a Republican runoff for Georgia’s 11th Congressional District, which includes a large swath of Cobb County. Both agree the regulations are a terrible idea.

Barr puts the blame on first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.

“Every time you think the government has done the most stupid thing possible, darned if they don’t do something even stupider,” Barr said. “Now, we have the ‘first nanny’ — the unelected, unaccountable ‘first nanny’ — going on her crusade.”

Barr, a former U.S. Congressman, and Loudermilk, a former state senator, are looking to replace Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta), who left his seat to launch an unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid.

Loudermilk echoed Barr’s comments.

“When did Michelle Obama take control of our choices here in Georgia?” Loudermilk said. “It’s not the place of the federal government to tell the states how to run their schools. It’s also not their place to tell children what to eat. That’s a parent’s decision. This is the epitome of what’s wrong in Washington, D.C.”

But state Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell) believes some of the standards have merit.

“Growing up, we didn’t have vending machines in schools,” he said. “I hate that we have to subsidize our education on the backs of the kids through vending machines. I don’t know if a kid should be having a sugary drink and candy and chips for lunch. They need to have something a little healthier.”

Wilkerson said he’s unsure about regulations affecting fundraisers.

Some are on the fence about the issue, such as Fara McCrady, a stay-at-home mom with two children at Lassiter High School.

“I don’t think it’s OK to tell us what we have to do, especially when it’s unreasonable compared to the way most children eat,” she said. “I don’t think they should ban snacks, but I do think kids are being taken advantage of. They know kids have cash, and these vending machines are filling them with things they shouldn’t have anyway.”

Schools not complying with the regulations could see a financial penalty up to $20,000, according to SmartSnacksinSchool.com. Unless the law is changed, schools do not have the choice of opting out or delaying the implementation of the standards.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
just a student
September 08, 2014
what are students going to do to raise money for there activities. It's not like kids are only eating at school. they can go home and eat and drink all the junk food they want.

Queen of the Nile
November 22, 2015
I'm a leader of 2 clubs and you have to be really inventive and work extra hard to fundraise which is pretty annoying, but not terrible.

But actually for a lot of kids, the meal they have at school may very well be the only meal they eat that day.
August 15, 2014
Randy Scamihorn's argument is ridiculous.... yeah, we can't let the kids go hungry for a few hours for goodness sake. Umm, why not? My mother let me go hungry all the time when I refused to eat, and the end result was I stopped being so picky and started eating the meals she provided. What kind of hoity toity creme puff generation are we raising here? The kids can have whatever they want, regardless of the consequences to their future health and quality of life? Don't pretend to show an interest in their welfare when that's the kind of message you're professing.
June 06, 2014
If burger can be parceled why not Phulkas (a type of Roti) are parceled? In the name of Wheat Phulkas all I see is Maida Oily Roti all across India. An entrepreneur can make a huge business out of Wheat Phulka Roti Parcel.
Just a Student
June 05, 2014
Not all students are fat.

I'm very fit and lean, and I eat a lot of junk food in addition to healthier foods. Many of my friends are the same way. We like junk food, but we're healthy because we can regulate. Just because some kids are incapable of regulating themselves doesn't mean that those who are capable of regulating themselves should be made to suffer. It's kinda dumb, don't you think?

This isn't even a solution to childhood obesity, it's just a nuisance. Obese kids are gonna eat what they want to eat at home anyways. It's not like we only eat at school.

How about we worry about our education and capacity to learn before we worry about what we can eat throughout the school day?
June 04, 2014
This rule is specific to foods SOLD in schools. Sale and consumption of these usually unhealthy foods results in overconsumption of calories by our children. Heavy children miss more school, do less well on tests, are discriminated against in school activities and have lifelong health problems. But go ahead and sell them the food...it's OK if our children's physical and mental health suffer for the sake of schools needing money.
Jackie Adams
June 02, 2014
A comment about this new law and how it affects fundraisers ....the "trickle down effect"....the law means many items will be taken out of vending machines. In cobb county, the vending machine money goes to the "local" school find (I.e.the school) to be used to supplement the funds being cut from other places. Clubs and sports supplement their fundraising efforts by selling biscuits, etc. now, the clubs/sports will have to find another way to fund their activities (more money from parents??)..the local businesses who provide the fundraiser items will loose that business, which in turn affects the business income and hiring ability. Either the federal government needs to fund the clubs/sports, or they need to let them continue to fundraise.
South Cobb Parent
June 02, 2014
The new rules do not apply to what your child brings from home to eat. You can still choose to load your own kid up with junk food if you wish. I am surprised by the number of parents who think it is a good idea to raise money selling junk food to kids during at school during the day. Childhood obesity is a real issue. Find another way to raise funds or find a healthy alternative that is the right serving size, and lower in sodium.
Diamond Jim
June 02, 2014
Looks like a great opportunity for enterprising students to bring a backpack loaded with the good stuff and sell them to other students! The Federal Snack Police would probably shut them down as well. Welcome to the new order, Comrades!
June 02, 2014
Just an observation/personal experience:

As a kid, I went to a school wherein 85% of the kids were on free lunch tickets. The rest of us bought our lunch.

It was the kids on free lunch tickets who always had enough money each day to bring bags of candy from the the store across the street into the class rooms(no, they were not suppose to do that). And NO they did not always eat all of that fine cafeteria food.

I am guessing things have NOT changed that much since then.
June 02, 2014
I can confirm, it has not changed at all.
Free lunch kid
July 24, 2014
I received free lunch the entire time I was in school and I can assure you we never had money to buy candy at the store across the street or from vending machines or from the industrious kids selling candy out of their lockers. So this poor kid says suck it. You're the same type of person that is sure everyone on Welfare is scamming and should be drug tested.

June 02, 2014
So how did this bill get thru a republican controlled house?

Why will a republican controlled Congress fund it?

So glad the establishment rinos are watching out fo' da' kidz.
August 04, 2014
Doing research the night before 1st day of school, because I didn't believe that Cobb County was adhering to this federal "command." To answer your first question... This bill DID NOT "get thru a 'republican controlled house.'" This Michelle Obama law was passed in 2010... and was sign in to law by Barack Obama in December... BEFORE those elected during the 2010 mid-terms were sworn in to office...

And from what I can find... a "republican controlled Congress," (by which I assume you mean "House of Representatives,"... knowing the Senate is, sadly, still controlled by Democrats - mostly by Harry Reid...)is not "funding" this. This law is not a "fund if you do things our way," law... it's a "we'll take away the funds you've ALWAYS gotten - as a penalty - law. And MANY are fighting it... including Republicans in House & Senate... the SNA ("School Nutrition Association"), and others.

Anybody who thinks people in Washington are watching our "fo' da' kidz," likely wants people in Washington to take care of EVERY ASPECT of their lives!!! Remember... Anything Gov't gives... gov't can take away. The only things we can count on are the things God gives us... and the things we are willing to work for and provide for ourselves...

Meals, healthy (according to Michelle Obama), or otherwise... included!

Sad how many want to turn personal responsibility for their kids' nutrition over to gov't...
Mary e
June 01, 2014
I work at an elementary school and what is more disturbing than the types of foods is the amount of waste. Many of the kids at my school are on free and reduced lunch. At the end of lunch I watch as unopened milk is thrown in the trash as well as most of their lunch. This happens at breakfast and lunch every day.
Need a Fundraiser
June 01, 2014
My children are in Cobb County Schools. Chick Fil A Biscuit Sales have helped all of these schools raise up to 10s of 1000s of dollars each year to support their school foundations, academic clubs and booster clubs. I'd like for the federal government to replace these funds OR give us a fundraiser that will be equally successful and as easy as it has been to sell as the CFA biscuits have been. I have HAD IT with our socialistic government.
Ben Twomey
June 01, 2014
The government, and particularly Michelle Obama, need to stay the heck out of local and private affairs and concentrate on getting people back to work and economic recovery.

This is pure and simple government intervention into something that is clearly none of their d----d business.

D.G. in Clarkdale
June 01, 2014
What asinine standards, but then again it comes from an administration that seems to revel in ludicrous ideas. I for one will be glad when the Progressive-Fascist in the White House is gone, along with his America hating, "Marie Antoinette" emulating wife.
Stop buying lunch
June 01, 2014
I personally dislike the schools having cookies, brownies and sugar drinks. Especially the Title I schools where kids eat off the taxpayer money. If you don't like what they serve, don't buy lunch. Plain and simple! The school lunches were crap and all carbs. I don't like the government being in our business and think Michelle Obama should be supporting a better platform, such as, black youth violence and schooling. I don't mind that the schools can't serve crap!
June 01, 2014
I agree with this comment. What an absolute joke that Moo-chelle is telling others what to eat. And she absolutely should be the voice of responsibility and accountability for black youth. The teen pregnancies, black on black crime...the never ending vicious cycle of poverty and welfare. The path to nowhere.
just saying
June 01, 2014
Very insightful Stop buying lunch. I suppose it doesn't matter that for many kids their school lunch is the only decent meal they get all day.
Just Sayin'....
June 01, 2014
Okay "Stop Buying Lunch"....the new rules also govern what your child brings from home to eat.
June 02, 2014
@ Just Sayin,

I read it as you can still bring what you want fr om home. If they were truly concerned with obesity children would have PE every day, recess when weather permits (no completing morning work during recess) and replace morning work with playing on the playground until the bell rings. This is what we did growing up and still had parties, yes I said parties, throughout the year complete with a small coke, chips, cake etc. I had only one overweight child in ES. I firmly believe it is because we got to MOVE!
June 02, 2014
to "Just Sayin'"...no they don't!
I Hat Idiots
June 05, 2014
As a student that the rule actually applies to (as opposed to a parent or someone else that isn't actually affected by the issue), I think this is the most irrelevant bill that could be passed. It's a nuisance. It won't solve the problem of childhood obesity in any way, shape, or form (a plump form at that). It's not like they'll stop selling cookies and all of the sudden everyone will lose 20 pounds of fat. Kids still eat at home, or they'll bring snacks to eat. It's almost at a point where you can't help but think, "does this actually matter"?

From the childhood obesity standpoint, if you're fat, you're fat. If you don't like it, exercise. Eating differently will help your health, but that's totally different than your weight.

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