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South Carolina Parents Overwhelmingly Support School Food Standards


A new survey from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the American Heart Association indicates that a vast majority of parents support the United States Department of Agriculture’s school meal and “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards.

Guidelines for the types of food sold in lunchrooms have been in effect since 2011. The Smart Snacks in School standards, which went into effect nationally on July 1, 2014, sets guidelines for how much fat, salt and calories are present in food and drinks sold in other areas of the school: vending machines, a la carte lines and school stores.

In South Carolina, 77 percent of parents are in favor of the new standards: 57 percent strongly support them and 75 percent also favor the guidelines extending to foods sold in school stores, vending machines and a la carte lines—the Smart Snacks in School standards. Nationally, 72 percent of parents favor standards for school meals. Of the 72 percent of parents who support the new standards, 50 percent strongly favor them.

“I was surprised that 75 percent of parents favor standards for snacks. I was pleasantly surprised and glad to see it,” said Dr. Joanne Avery, Deputy Superintendent of Anderson School District Four in Pendleton, South Carolina.

While support for the standards remains high across all races, political views and income levels, the percentages of parents who favor the standards did seem to vary slightly between groups:

  • Overall, 68 percent of White parents approve of the new standards, compared to 91 percent of African-Americans. The numbers are slightly higher in South Carolina specifically: 73 percent of White parents and 93 percent of African-American parents support the new guidelines.
  • Nationally, 84 percent of Democrats, 71 percent of Independents and 56 percent of Republicans favor the standards. In South Carolina, 90 percent of Democrats, 81 percent of Independents and 64 percent of Republicans favor the standards.
  • In South Carolina, 80 percent of mothers and 73 percent of fathers support the standards.
  • 91 percent of lower-income parents supported the standards in South Carolina, compared with 68 percent of middle-income parents and 77 percent of upper-income parents. 

In addition to questions about their support of school food guidelines, parents were also asked broad questions about child health in the United States. 80 percent of parents are concerned with the state of children’s health, while 74 percent are specifically concerned by childhood obesity. These numbers are higher in South Carolina: 82 percent of parents say that are concerned about overall child health, while 79 percent are concerned about childhood obesity in particular.

“I was thrilled to see that the majority of parents are in agreement that they want to see healthy changes. Specifically, that they are concerned with the state of our children’s health and the high percentage of childhood obesity,” said Dr. Avery.

For more results and to see how South Carolina compares to the rest of the United States, you can view the entire report online here.

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