As the U.S. Department of Agriculture prepares to unveil proposed nutrition standards for snacks and drinks served in schools, a just-launched website aims to generate advocacy support among the school community for healthy school snacks.
The website Bag the Junk features advocacy tools such as organizing tips, policy briefs, fact sheets and sample letters about the importance of improving the nutritional quality of competitive foods, defined as food and beverages sold outside of school meals.
Developed by the National Education Association Health Information Network, the website also is home to shareable infographics about school nutrition, news highlighting trends in school food, healthy snack ideas for school cafeterias and a la carte lines, and the opportunity for schools to share success stories when it comes to school food.
“We created the website to help members of the school community act as informed champions for healthier snack foods and beverages in schools,” says Lisa Sharma Creighton, the project director of Bag the Junk. “Each page of the site is chock full of information, tools, and resources that will be updated frequently to reflect current news, trends, and thoughts from experts in the field.”
Many advocates consider improving the nutritional quality of school snacks and drinks to be a key part of the overall effort to reverse childhood obesity. While schools nationwide are currently implementing improved nutritional guidelines for school meals, there are no such standards for other school food, including snacks and drinks sold in a la carte lines, vending machines and student stores.
The USDA is expected to release proposed nutritional guidelines for competitive foods — so named because they compete with school meals for student spending — sometime in the spring.
Along with the website, Sharma Creighton tells the Inside Track that Bag the Junk plans to be active on social media sites such as Twitter and Pinterest.
Click here to connect with Lisa Sharma Creighton.