Mike McMahon AUSD
BOE Meetings Assessment Facilities FinancesFavorite Links

Nutrition and Health in the Schools

The prevalence of overweight and obesity in California children and teens is on the rise. Approximately one in five children are considered overweight, with the number of overweight children doubling in the past two decades. This leads to a generation at risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other serious health problems. Recent reports document an alarming rise in type 2, diabetes and hypercholesterolemia in overweight youth.

It is the primary responsibility of schools to foster academic achievement. Schools do this by providing a high-quality instructional program, but also by paying attention to the needs of the whole child that influence academic achievement. To better prepare students to learn, schools should provide education in an environment that gives students the skills, opportunities and encouragement they need to adopt healthy lifestyles. This requires more than educating youth on the importance of healthy eating and physical activity. Students should have access to healthy foods and beverages throughout the school day.

As a result of this emerging information new mandates are being for passed for school districts. At the fedderal level, the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, the U.S. Congress established a new requirement that all school districts with a federally-funded school meals program develop and implement wellness policies that address nutrition and physical activity by the start of the 2006-2007 school year [Section 204]. In response to requests for guidance on developing such policies, the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity convened a work group of more than 50 health, physical activity, nutrition, and education professionals from a variety of national and state organizations to develop a set of model policies for local school districts.

At the State level, legislation requiring the purchase of "fresh" food has been passed. Some districts have begun exploring banning all junk foods, including PTA bake sales. In Austin, Texas, the law of supply and demand for junk food dictated a retreat in their ban of junk food.

Less than a year (2006) after the nation's largest beverage companies pledged to remove high-calorie drinks and limit sugary beverages in all schools, districts across the country are finding that they may not be able to afford the switch because of contracts they signed several years ago with bottlers for the companies.

The line where school stops and parental control starts not only includes nutrition but also includes of other of health. A school district in Southern California is defending itself against suit over a survey of elementary students on their sexual feelings.

Providing food to school districts is big business, so it no surprise that food manufacturers have found creative ways to keep their products in California schools.

Of course if the public paid attention to the nutrition facts published they could see why these foods are labeled the Worst FoodWorst Foods.

District may go for junk-food jugular

Santa Clara Unified Could Ban Unhealthful Fare at All School Events; Groups Howl

By Becky Bartindale, San Jose Mercury News, March 9, 2006

It's one thing to ban the sale of soda, candy and potato chips in school lunch lines.

But what happens when a local school district tries to outlaw selling -- or even giving away -- popular high-fat, sugar-rich foods 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on all campuses?

Santa Clara Unified School District trustees are about to find out. They are considering a policy that would bar birthday cupcakes in class, fatty hot dogs at sporting events and PTA bake sales. Candy and cookie-dough fundraisers would be verboten. And for those who get thirsty, think water, juice and low-fat milk.

``What it means, basically, is no junk foods,'' said Roger Barnes, the district's business administrator. Students could bring what they want from home, but only for themselves.

The community members and school employees who proposed the new policy say it represents a valiant effort to improve students' health and curb childhood obesity. But some students and parents say they deserve the chance to make their own choices. School booster and parent organizations worry it will cut into the tens of thousands of dollars they raise through food sales, which fund a host of things, including band uniforms, athletic tournament fees, stage sets and school movie nights.

The proposed rules are based on nutrition standards California will require during the school day in all grades beginning next year. Recent laws extend a ban on sodas from lower grades to high schools, and limit calories, fat and sugar content of food that may be served at school.

But the Santa Clara district is taking the healthy diet movement one step further: enforcing the new nutrition standards at all times. Representatives of booster and parent-teacher groups are expected to turn out in force at a study session tonight to ask the school board to ratchet back the rules. A decision will be made at a later meeting.

``Like me, everybody supported the school-day thing,'' said Santa Clara High School Principal Brad Syth. ``But when it went to 24/7, it took on a whole new life.''

Proponents of better school nutrition, including Jack O'Connell, California's superintendent of public instruction, point to a link between healthy food and academic performance. They say campuses that have gotten rid of junk food during the school day are reporting higher test scores and fewer discipline problems.

``We can't educate children's brains in an unhealthy body,'' said Phyllis Bramson-Paul, director of nutrition services for the California Department of Education.

Programs in peril?

At Santa Clara High School, soda sales account for about 50 percent of the athletic budget, said athletic director Tony McGilvery. And boosters contribute about $12,000 a year from concession sales.

Without that money, ``we couldn't run the program,'' he said. Parents, who often skip dinner to come to nighttime school events, are the biggest spenders at school snack shacks, the boosters say. If parents and students can't get what they want to eat on campus, they can at the nearby 7-Elevens draining money from school programs.

Student organizations also rely on food sales to help underwrite their activities.

Junior Jamal Fedalizo's class at Wilcox High sold candy to raise money for homecoming. The Best Buddies club sells brownies for $1 each a few times every month, said senior Sarah Samoranos. And four times a year, all student organizations sell food -- including items such as deep-fried Oreos -- at lunchtime Food Faires. The Vietnamese Club earns about $1,600 a year this way to put on a cultural show and donate money to organizations in Vietnam, said senior Darrell Tran.

``These sweets and junk food are a financial resource for these clubs,'' said Sarah, 17. ``Without money, we have no clubs. And without clubs, we have no Wilcox community.''

Instead of a complete junk food ban, the students said they'd like to see some exceptions.

``It's a good idea; it benefits our health,'' said Jamal, 17. ``But 24 hours a day is pushing it.''

Elementary and middle schools do not sell soda or candy now, but their booster and parent groups frequently sell food.

Sutter Elementary parent and PTA leader Anna Strauss said she likes the move to serving healthier foods at school. ``But I don't think the school board needs to come in and make across-the-board decisions about what kids are eating at all times on campus,'' she said. ``I hope it doesn't get to where every hot dog we sell will be scrutinized. I think we need to find a balance.''

Message to students

Supporters of the proposed changes say they understand all these worries. But while money is important, they say, it's more important to send students a clear message.

``What is our ultimate goal? To teach good eating habits,'' said Kelly Gomez, a Wilcox High School resource teacher who served on the nutrition committee.

She thinks students may adjust to the changes more easily than their parents. When the student store at Cabrillo Middle School replaced junk food with healthier offerings, students grumbled at first, and there was a slight dip in sales, Gomez said, but after a while ``the kids started responding favorably.'' In the Vista Unified School District in Southern California, nutrition director Enid Hohn says she has been able to quadruple revenue for schools by replacing junk food with healthier choices.

She bought new vending machines, placed them in attractive enclosures and started selling granola bars, trail mixes, peanut butter-filled pretzels, peanuts, beef jerky, low-fat cheese, cut-up fruit, fresh vegetables with ranch dip, bagels with low-fat cream cheese and shaker salads in domed containers. Ice cream machines sell 100 percent fruit-juice bars, and no portion of anything is larger than four ounces.

When she started five years ago, Vista High School received about a $10,000 commission from food sales; now it pockets $40,000, Hohn said.

``Somehow we have been programmed in this country to think the only foods we'll eat are junk foods,'' Hohn said. ``I just have found that is not true. We've really sold our kids short.''

Sugary syrup fuels spat over school food

Original bill called for fresh produce for kids

Stacy Finz, San Francisco Chronicle, March 7, 2006

There's a food fight in California's capital -- and at stake is the fare served in school cafeterias across the state.

Assemblywomen Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, and Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, say a law initially intended to provide children with fresh produce now could let school districts serve canned fruit in light syrup -- a source of the added sugar that contributes to childhood obesity and the increased rate of diabetes.

The bill, signed in September by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, allots $18.2 million for a pilot breakfast program at elementary, junior high and high schools. Written by Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County), the legislation originally called for only fresh fruits and vegetables in the program.

However, at the urging of the commercial food processing industry, the word "fresh" was replaced with "nutritious," enabling school districts to offer dried, frozen and canned produce as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Don Gordon, president of the Agricultural Council of California, which represents food producers in the state, said canners didn't like the original bill because of the implication that their product was less healthful than fresh produce. The council asked that the legislation be amended to include raisins, nuts, frozen fruits and vegetables, and canned goods, arguing that those would be good alternatives when fresh wasn't available.

Last week, the Department of Education set temporary, emergency regulations to enact the legislation that would allow school districts to also serve canned fruit in light syrup.

"I think it's a tragedy when more and more children are obese and fewer and fewer children are able to eat fresh fruit, to give them canned,'' Hancock said. "It's feeding them sugar.''

The emergency regulations are scheduled to go before the California State Board of Education for a vote Thursday. If they are adopted, California schools could begin receiving money for the program immediately.

"This is California. We have oranges. We have apples. We have pears. There should be no problem finding fresh fruits and vegetables,'' said Hancock, who wrote a letter to the board president, Glee Johnson, urging her to amend the guidelines.

Goldberg called the law "a complete hoax. If they want to subsidize the canning and processing industry, they should just say it."

The regulations were drawn up by the Department of Education and are temporary, said Phyllis Bramson-Paul, director of the agency's nutrition services division. She said they relied on guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"The reality is that fresh costs more money,'' she said. "It's 15 cents per serving for fresh, and the schools are only getting 10 cents per serving. So maybe for a few months out of the year, we can purchase something other than fresh. But, the priority will always be fresh.''

She noted that the emergency regulations are good for no more than six months and that during that time, the department plans to get input from agricultural and nutrition experts about how to "stretch the definition of nutritious."

Maldonado, the bill's sponsor, questioned why emergency regulations were even necessary, noting that the bill was signed seven months ago.

"To hear that they are now allowing light syrup is disappointing and was not the intention of the bill," he said.

Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF and a renowned expert on childhood obesity, said nothing is a substitute for fresh fruits and vegetables.

"The processing of food takes the good thing -- the fiber -- out of it," he said, adding that today's children have been doomed to obesity.

He said putting fruit in syrup is no different than adding sugar.

"We have co-opted our children's health so someone in big food can make money," he said. "And I think it stinks."

Black Market When Candy Sales are Banned

According to a story in the Austin American-Statesman, administrators at Austin High School banned candy from campus vending machines last year. The idea was that the fat students would immediately turn to eating substitutes (snacks, not teachers). The school supplied tuna, granola bars and baked chips.

Intead, the students created a black market.

Enterprising teenagers began appearing at school "armed with gym bags full of M&Ms, Skittles, Snickers and Twix," selling their sugary wares at a jacked-up price of $1.50. "I heard kids were making $200 a week just selling candy," said Austin High junior Hayden Starkey.

The market was so successful that school officials returned some candy to the vending machines. "It's all about supply and demand," said Austin High junior Scott Roudebush. "We've got some entrepreneurs around here."

Suit over sex questions reaches Supreme Court

Palmdale parents object to survey of school children

by Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, August 30, 2006

Southern California parents represented by a conservative organization have gone to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge an elementary school's right to survey their children about their sexual feelings.

The appeal was filed Monday by Liberty Counsel on behalf of seven parents of children at Mesquite Elementary School in the Palmdale School District in Los Angeles County. The parents' suit was rejected in November by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The survey, which the district sent to first-, third- and fifth-graders in 2001, was intended to measure children's exposure to early trauma and included 10 questions about sex.

Among the questions was how often they thought about sex and whether they were "touching ... private parts too much.''

Parents had consented to the survey in advance after being told of its nature but had not reviewed specific questions. The survey was dropped after parents complained.

In rejecting a suit by parents seeking damages for violations of their rights, the Ninth Circuit ruled in November that a parent's authority to make basic decisions about a child's upbringing does not include a constitutional right to control what the child is taught at school.

"Schools cannot be expected to accommodate the personal, moral or religious concerns of every parent,'' Judge Stephen Reinhardt said in the 3-0 ruling.

In a statement accompanying the Supreme Court appeal, attorney Mathew Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, called the ruling "an assault on every parent whose child attends public school.''

Supreme Court turns down parents who complained about student sex survey

Associated Press, December 4, 2006

WASHINGTON – Parents who sued a California school district over a sex survey given to students lost a Supreme Court appeal Monday. Justices declined to review an appeals court ruling that dismissed the suit against the Palmdale School District.

The parents claimed their constitutional rights were violated when the district conducted surveys that asked students how often they thought about sex, among other questions. The parents said they had the sole right “to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex.”

However, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said parents of public school children have no “fundamental right” to be the exclusive provider of sexual information to their children.

The district, north of Los Angeles, had dropped the survey in 2002 amid complaints from parents. The poll was given to children in the first, third and fifth grades.

It was part of a program to gauge exposure to early trauma and to assist in designing a program for children to overcome barriers to learning, according to the district.

The case is Fields, et al, v. Palmdale School District, 06-300.

Schools stuck with sugary drinks

Contracts with beverage companies make it hard for districts to remove sodas and juices in effort to fight obesity

By Annys Shin, Washington Post, March 22, 2007

WASHINGTON - Less than a year after the nation's largest beverage companies pledged to remove high-calorie drinks and limit sugary beverages in all schools, districts across the country are finding that they may not be able to afford the switch because of contracts they signed several years ago with bottlers for the companies.

When Portland, Ore., recently wanted to remove diet soda and sports drinks from high school vending machines and cafeterias, school officials found that they would have to pay the local Coca-Cola bottling company $600,000 to do so. In Racine, Wis., officials decided not to remove high-calorie drinks from high schools earlier this year after they learned they would have to pay the local Pepsi bottler $200,000.

A majority of schools have exclusive marketing agreements with bottling companies -- almost 75 percent of high schools, 65 percent of middle schools, and 30 percent of elementary schools.

The contracts, which can last as long as 10 years, typically grant the exclusive right to market a company's brands in school vending machines, on scoreboards and on cups at sporting events in exchange for a large upfront payment followed by yearly payments. The contracts include penalties if a school does not meet sales targets or if a school changes the mix of beverages sold.

In May, 2006, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Cadbury-Schweppes, the three largest players in the industry, signed a voluntary agreement to remove high-calorie sodas from schools by 2009.

The agreement, brokered by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a project sponsored by the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, came in response to a tripling of child obesity rates among school-age children since 1980. Children consume 35 percent to 50 percent of their calories during the school day, the alliance said.

The three major beverage companies, which operate separately from local bottlers, said they would make "diligent efforts" to ensure current and future contracts with bottlers abide by a set of voluntary guidelines.

The guidelines include offering elementary school students milk, water and fruit juice instead of high-calorie soda; and offering high school students water, no-calorie or low-calorie drinks, such as diet soda, milk and light juices, including sports drinks.

In most cases, carrying out the guidelines requires altering existing beverage contracts. Wisconsin's Racine Unified School District, for example, had to change its agreement with its Pepsi distributor.

After years of budget problems, school closings and teacher layoffs, the Racine school system signed a 10-year marketing agreement with the Pepsi bottler in 2000, which came with an upfront payment of $450,000 and an annual payment of about $200,000, which included a percentage of drink sales and $25,000 for items such as scoreboards.

The district wanted to apply its new nutrition guidelines to beverages in September but found that required repaying about $200,000 of the upfront payment, said Nicholas Alioto, the district's chief operating officer.

"Fiscally we're not in a position to give the money back," he said, and the school system would wait until the contract ends in 2010.

In Oregon, the Portland school district had received a $1.2 million payment in 2002 and would have had to repay about $600,000 if it changed the contract. The district has been in negotiations with the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Oregon about the contract.

Some consumer advocates contend that the contracts make the industry's voluntary agreement meaningless.

"Many school districts are stuck with a deal with the devil. ... The schools could buy out the contract, but this is about kids and school districts that are strapped for cash" said Deborah Pinkas, a Portland lawyer who, along with another lawyer, Nicola Pinson, wrote a study on beverage contracts issued in the fall.

Kevin Keane, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association, said bottlers cannot be expected to take a financial hit to implement the guidelines.

"Schools ask for money up front," Keane said. "So companies have made an investment. If you're going to alter that dramatically, the one side is going to bear the brunt of the financial pain, which isn't fair."

The industry is aware changing existing contracts would take time and gave itself three years to implement the voluntary agreement, Keane said. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation estimates high-calorie sodas and drinks would be removed from 75 percent of school vending machines and cafeterias by the start of the 2008 school year and from every school by 2009.

Somes schools, students make a hash of anti-junk food law

Santa Clara Unified Could Ban Unhealthful Fare at All School Events; Groups Howl

By Stacy Finz, San Francisco Chronicle, September 28, 2007

Despite a new law designed to ban the sale of junk food at California schools, the kiosk at Santa Clara High is stocked with chocolate-chip cookies, the lunch window at Novato High serves up potato chips, and the concession stand at Albany High is doing a booming business in Cheetos.

But don't call the food police. All three districts are in compliance with the state law that requires snacks and individual entrees sold on campus to contain fewer calories and less fat and sugar.

It seems that while kids were preparing to go back to school this fall, food manufacturers were busy re-creating their products - shrinking portions, eliminating trans fats and baking instead of frying - to make them meet the requirements of the Food Nutrition Standards Bill by July 1.

The statute is intended to improve students' diets by nudging them into eating a well-rounded healthful lunch. But so far, that goal has proved elusive. Some campuses, such as Piedmont Middle School, appear to be ignoring the regulations altogether. And others let kids make a meal of revamped snack foods.

According to food industry statistics, in the last year more than 10,000 products have been either introduced or reformulated to contain less fat and sugar. Now, snacks such as Nutter Butters, Rice Krispies Treats, nacho-flavored Baked Doritos and barbecue Corn Nuts comply with the school nutrition standards.

Although these products meet the letter of the law, do they meet the spirit?

"Taking away a little fat and a little sugar does not convert highly processed foods into healthful foods," said Marion Nestle, professor of food studies and public health at New York University and author of "What to Eat." "The kids are still eating junk foods. They are just better-for-you junk foods, and put quotes around 'better-for-you.' "

The legislation, passed in 2005 as Senate Bill 12, was carried by former Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Montebello (Los Angeles County), and sponsored by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California School Boards Association. It was intended to reduce childhood obesity and diseases associated with poor nutrition by ridding schools of empty-calorie snacks and fattening entrees.

No longer, officials hoped, would kids be able to make a lunch out of a bag or two of Doritos from a campus vending machine or a couple of cookies from the snack cart. Ideally, officials anticipated that the snack bars on campus would be shuttered. The idea was that, without junk food, students would be lured into the cafeteria, where a full meal approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture awaited.

But Bay Area kids are still making lunches out of pizza, cookies and chips - albeit mostly baked ones - because those items continue to be sold.

Taylor Keating, a seventh grader at Piedmont Middle School, bought a mini-pizza for lunch from the concession stand on campus earlier this week. But there are times, she said, when she'll skip the entree altogether and spend some of her lunch money on a bag of chips.

"One of my friends always eats chips and cookies for lunch," she said. "Her parents are really into being healthy, so that's her only chance to get junk food."

Food manufacturers won't talk about how they've reformulated their products for proprietary reasons, but companies such as Frito-Lay, Kellogg's and Kraft Foods all have snack lines that comply with the new law. They say they, too, want to fight the battle of the bulge, but they don't want to deprive consumers of choice.

"The industry is committed to providing products that promote health and wellness," said Robert Earl, senior director for nutrition policy at the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a trade group. "Companies are doing everything from portion packs to baked chips."

In order to adhere to California nutrition requirements, snacks sold in middle and high schools can have no more than 250 calories; in elementary schools, snacks must be 175 calories or less. No more than 35 percent of the snack's calories can come from fat and no more than 10 percent from saturated fat. Sugar is limited to 35 percent by weight.

Fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, nut butters, seeds, eggs and cheese are excluded from the regulations, as is food brought from home.

Individually sold entrees such as pizza, burritos and hamburgers can't be more than 400 calories, with a maximum of 4 grams of fat per 100 calories. The law does not limit how many snacks or entrees students can buy at a time.

In addition, half of the drinks sold on high school campuses must be juice, water and low-fat or non-fat milk. In 2009 all soda will be banned (it already is banned from elementary and middle schools). The sale of sugary athletic drinks is still permitted.

"The standards are some of the most rigorous in the country," says Phyllis Bramson-Paul, California Department of Education's director of nutrition services. She says that the California statute is a model for other agencies, including the Institute of Medicine, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences. The institute, at the behest of Congress, published its own recommendations for school snacks in July. They resemble California's but are even stricter, suggesting that fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or non-fat dairy be the only snacks sold on campus.

NYU's Nestle, a leading nutrition expert, warns that policies like California's, dictated by fat, sugar and calorie content, sometimes are rife with problems. The reality, she says, is that foods with minimal nutrition value squeak in under the wire.

Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy and one of the designers of the statute, countered that even had the state's lawmakers eliminated individual foods from schools, manufacturers still would have found ways to sneak them back in.

"If we had banned candy bars, the manufacturers would have said, 'This isn't a candy bar, this is a brownie. If we had banned brownies, they would have said, 'This isn't a brownie, it's a cookie.' If we had banned cookies, they would have said, 'This is bread.'

"What's really important for parents and students to understand is that these are not healthy food standards," Goldstein said. "They were meant to weed out the worst of the worst."

Bramson-Paul said the overall goal is to move kids away from the a la carte items to a balanced meal.

"If snack foods become less appealing or nonexistent, the cafeteria gets a second look," she said.

But to make that happen, school districts have to work at it. Some, including San Francisco and Berkeley, started purging their halls of junk food even before SB12 passed. Others, like Piedmont, are still serving foods that are too fattening - Pop Tarts containing 400 calories, potato chips with more than 50 percent calories from fat and Sun Chips with 38 percent calories from fat.

"Our parent club runs the food concession," said Piedmont Middle School principal Jeanne Donovan. "They are having their first meeting next week to look at how we can move toward these guidelines. In the meantime, we are serving more healthful foods and will continue to."

Amy Honigman-Tobe, president of Piedmont Middle School's parents club, said the club just does the accounting for the program and is not qualified to make nutrition decisions.

The Legislature did not spell out how to penalize districts that break the law, said Bramson-Paul, adding that offenders at least will be required to submit a corrective-action plan. But discovering which schools are noncompliant could prove difficult. The Department of Education has money for only one monitor, who works out of Sacramento and primarily tracks schools in the San Joaquin Valley.

For some districts that are adhering to the rules, getting rid of snacks and individually sold items has been difficult - especially because campus food-service programs are pressured to at least break even. The cafeteria competes with sack lunches brought from home, and schools with open campuses contend with students heading out to nearby fast-food joints and convenience stores.

At Mill Valley's Mount Tamalpais Elementary School, instead of serving cafeteria lunches, the Parent-Teacher Association sells meals purchased from popular local restaurants. They say the kids like the food. Bramson-Paul is not pleased, however, saying that a steady diet of restaurant food is unlikely to meet either the requirements of the balanced federal lunch program or the new state law.

Jane McDonough, a principal in the district and food liaison between the PTA and the schools, argued that her schools not only comply with the new regulations but adhere to the USDA's lunch standard of a balanced meal of 640 calories.

At Palo Alto High School, on any given lunch break you can find more than half of the student body at the shopping center across the street buying candy, burritos, deli sandwiches, pizza and French pastries.

"The food here isn't too good," freshman Renel Sun said about the offerings at her school. "The only thing I buy are the chocolate-chip cookies. I can't get them across the street."

It's no wonder that the district's lunch program has been running at a significant loss for some time, said Greg Lynch, Palo Alto Unified School District's new food services director.

"I'd just as soon that we didn't sell potato chips on campus," he said. "I'd rather sell fruit and vegetables." But Lynch says that in order to compete, he has to keep the a la carte program going.

Miguel Villarreal, director of the Novato Unified School District, has been making lunches for students with organic produce as part of the Farm-to-School program, supplied to by local growers. He hopes to eventually get rid of the baked potato chips and sell more vegetables and fruit.

Albany Unified School District's executive chef Clell Hoffman says next month he'll stop selling individual entrees on campus. He wants to steer kids to the cafeteria's hot lunch and the more healthful fruit cups, salads and yogurts. But the chips and cookies will stay. Hoffman's philosophy is that eating a treat during the school day isn't going to kill anyone.

"There's such a thing as comfort food," he said. "The emotional satisfaction you get from a snack while you're at school all day trying to learn is just as important as any physical benefits."

Juan Cordon, food service consultant at Santa Clara Unified School District, said in the last few years he's been trying to push kids into eating a full cafeteria lunch and no longer sells the worst of the a la carte offenders like corn dogs and cheeseburgers. But to keep financially afloat, he has to keep selling low-calorie cookies and baked chips.

"If we were completely subsidized we could turn the whole thing around," he said. "Unfortunately, however, there's not as much money in selling salads and homemade granola."

Sound off: Have something to say? Call (415) 777-6268 to comment for an Open Mic podcast on sfgate.com. THE LAW California's School Food Nutrition Standards Bill (formerly SB12) went into effect on July 1. Here are the highlights: -- Snacks sold in middle and high schools must be 250 calories or less; in elementary schools, they must be 175 calories or less. -- Fat can account for no more than 35 percent of a snack's calories. -- Saturated fat can account for no more than 10 percent of a snack's calories. -- Sugar can be no more than 35 percent by weight. -- Fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, nut butters, seeds, eggs and cheese are excluded from the regulations, as is food brought from home. -- Individually sold entrees such as pizza, burritos and hamburgers must be 400 calories or less, with no more than 4 grams of fat per 100 calories. -- Other state law bans sale of soda in elementary and middle schools, although it can still be sold in high schools. Sugary athletic drinks are permitted. However, half of the drinks sold in high schools must be juice, water or low-fat or nonfat milk. In 2009, all soda sales will be banned from high schools. Manufacturers won't say exactly how they reformulated the product, but they shrunk portions, reduced calories, fat and sugar.


Comments. Questions. Broken links? Bad spelling! Incorrect Grammar? Let me know at webmaster.
Last modified: March 22, 2007

Disclaimer: This website is the sole responsibility of Mike McMahon. It does not represent any official opinions, statement of facts or positions of the Alameda Unified School District. Its sole purpose is to disseminate information to interested individuals in the Alameda community.