WASHINGTON -- The Senate Agriculture Committee approved legislation last week that would allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create standards for all foods in schools, including items sold through vending machines.
The legislation, aimed at giving students healthier options, would designate $4.5 billion more over 10 years for nutrition programs.
The new USDA standards would not necessarily change the items on school menus, but would require they be made with "healthier" ingredients. Vending machines would feature less candy and fewer high- calorie sodas. Decisions on what kinds of foods would be sold and which ingredients may be limited would be left up to the department.
The Associated Press reported that the bill would provide a 6¢ increase in reimbursements to schools per meal, the first such increase since 1973. Schools would have to show compliance with the national nutrition standards to receive the reimbursement.
The House has not acted on new standards. If the government moves quickly, they could be in place for the 2011-'12 school year.