Government Cracks Down on School Junk Food

Aug. 1, 2006

New federal rules in effect July 1 require schools to serve healthier foods and drinks in their vending machines and cafeterias in September, when students return to classes. Schools challenged by this massive makeover, and scrambling to meet the deadline, are turning to Oldways and the Whole Grains Council (WGC) for help.

Rallying key members of the food industry, the WGC has assembled a detailed guide to whole-grain meal options and snacks for schools. These are whole-grain products for the 21st century, combining the tastes and textures kids want with the healthy nutrients now required by law.

The Whole Grains Council’s 125 industry members are working to make sure whole grains are appealing. “Children need healthier food choices, including whole grains,” says Oldways President K. Dun Gifford, “and now, whole grains are being packaged in kid-friendly colors, shapes and sizes. Plus, they taste great.”

In the cafeteria, schools can now choose 100% whole-grain buttermilk biscuits or blueberry waffles for breakfast, and whole-wheat pasta or pizza with whole-grain crust for lunch, among dozens of other whole-grain choices.

In vending machines, great choices to replace candy bars include bite-size Snackimals Oatmeal Cookies, Graham Crackers in a fun box with a handle, and Pumpkin Granola Cereal in kid-size “cereal cups.”

Will kids eat whole grains? Schools that have already tossed the mystery meat and cheese doodles report that hungry kids switch over readily to new, healthier options. “Schools are seeing that revenues and profits quickly rebound to previous levels,” says Cynthia Harriman, director of food and nutrition strategies for Oldways and the Whole Grains Council.

At a time when 29.5 million kids participate in the National School Lunch Program and another 9.3 million eat school breakfasts, schools can play a major role in helping children enjoy the three servings of whole grains per day recommended in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines. Oldways and the Whole Grains Council stand ready to help them find the whole-grain suppliers and products they need to meet these mandatory new policies.

Complete lists of whole-grain school products are available at wholegrainscouncil.org/Schools.html. A partial list is provided below. For a list of Whole Grains Council members, visit wholegrainscouncil.org/members.html. For more information about whole grains in schools, contact Courtney Davis, media manager for Oldways and the Whole Grains Council, at 617-896-4888 or [email protected].

Whole-Grain School-Friendly Products

  • Snackimals Wheat-free Oatmeal Cookies (Barbara’s Bakery);

  • Graham Crackers and Veggie Spelt Krackers (Dr. Kracker);

  • Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola (Nature’s Path);

  • 100% whole-grain buttermilk biscuits (Mom’s Bakery);

  • blueberry waffles (Van’s International);

  • pizza with whole-grain crust (S.A. Piazza, Schwan Foods, Rizzuto Foods);

  • whole-grain pasta (Mueller’s, Racconto, Lifestream, Inn Maid, Marzetti Frozen Pasta, RiceTec).

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