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A new law and new food requirements

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer

Wienerschnitzel will need to find an alternative to its chili-cheese dog if it expects to continue selling food at Carson High School when students return for the 2006-07 school year.

New state food and beverage guidelines, which must be adopted by June 30, prohibit sales of foods with more than 30 percent of calories from fat, 10 percent of calories from saturated fat and 35 percent of sugar per serving.

That means no sales of soda at schools – and not just regular soda, but diet soda too.

Bonnie Eastwood, director of school nutrition for the Carson City School District, doesn’t like the diet alternatives.

The federal policy takes aim at childhood obesity, which has tripled since 1970, as well as increases in asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes in children.

“We wanted to help create a healthy environment for students and help them learn healthy behaviors,” said Donnell Barton, Nevada Department of Education, director of child nutrition and school health. “A cookie is not bad for you, but if you have three cookies for lunch, it is not a good thing.”

Federal legislation left it up to states to decide whether to develop a statewide wellness policy or to let districts create their own.

“We felt like a statewide policy would create a more consistent policy across the state,” Barton said. “We will all be moving in the same direction. We realize that this is not an easy thing for folks to change. It’s going to take a while.”

The Clark County School District started working on its food policy early on. Now many of the state’s 16 other school districts plan to use its list of allowed and prohibited foods.

“We’re following basically the guidelines set down by the state and pretty much Clark County since they’ve already had theirs in place,” Eastwood said. “We are going off their acceptable and non-acceptable food lists, but we did make some fund-raising issues less stringent.”

Cookie dough fundraising sales, for example, can continue as long as items are sold off campus.

The new policy means that in the dozen or so soda machines at Carson High School, sodas will be replaced by fruit juices, flavored water and regular water.

“Because of the sugar, no carbonated beverage, no soda can be sold to the kids,” Barton said. “If the school chooses to have a soda machine, they can do that as long as the kids don’t have access to it 30 minutes before the school day and 30 minutes after the school day.”

The policy does not affect machines accessible solely by staff, like those in a teachers lounge. But even there, sodas must be off limits to students. Teachers are also not allowed to award students with foods or beverages that break the policy.

“Soda pop as we know it does not provide nutritional value,” Eastwood said. “If we are adopting a wellness policy, our intent is to provide a nutritious alternative than soda. (Soda) has been outlawed in most of the states surrounding us in that schools do not provide it to the students.”

Any candies, desserts and beverages meeting the guidelines can be sold in schools. There are some exemptions. At night, sodas and other products exceeding guidelines, can be sold. Parents also can pick up the cookie dough for fundraisers on campus without waiting 30 minutes before or after school. The wellness policy does encourage alternative choices to cookie dough sales, like healthy food or gift-wrap items.

“Thirty or 40 years ago, we thought smoking was a fine thing to do,” Barton said. “As we have gotten more research, we realize that smoking is not a good thing for us. We realize that obesity is not a good thing for us. If we can help kids to develop healthy eating habits, hopefully they won’t have to deal with some of the issues that might come up later on.”

The school district has used the 30/10 fat guidelines in its kitchens for years. The real changes in foods at Carson High School will be to a la carte vendors, like Wienerschnitzel, Round Table Pizza, Port-Of-Subs and Pop’s Barbecue, which must adjust their menus.

“They haven’t notified me yet they’re not coming back,” Eastwood said.

Carson’s nutrition department has already jump started the wellness policy by replacing some items with healthier alternatives like 100-calorie packages of Chips Ahoy, baked potato chips or reduced-fat pizza.

“The kids don’t realize it, but they’ve been getting a low-fat pizza,” Eastwood said. “My thought process was to try and squeeze in the changes a little bit beforehand.”

Before formulating its state policy, the Nevada Department of Education hosted public hearings in Elko, Reno and Las Vegas. A team of 30 people, including nutritionists, created the state policy. In Carson, a staff of 15 people examined the policy. It has been recommended to the school district and the board is scheduled to vote on it Tuesday night.

• Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at moneill@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.

Choices

What schools can’t serve What they can

Butterfinger Nutri-Grain cereal bar

Coca-Cola sodas, regular and diet Coca-Cola Powerade sports drink

Frito Lay Baked Cheetos Baked Doritos Nacho Cheesier

1.7 ounce size Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats original flavor, 1.3 ounce size only

Kraft Cream Cheese Litehouse low-fat caramel dip

Lays Classic Potato Chips Baked Lays Original Potato Chips

Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, regular and reduced fat Famous Amos Ginger Snaps

Minute Maid Pink Lemonade Minute Maid 100 percent orange or apple juices

Nabisco Fig Newtons Barnum’s Animal Crackers

Nestle Nesquik Low-fat unflavored white milk Anderson Dairy 2 percent milk

Otis Spunkmeyer Low Fat Wild Blueberry Muffin Pop Tarts, unfrosted (excluding blueberry)

Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Gold fish crackers Dole Fruit Cup

Pepsi sodas Hansen’s Juice Slam

Snickers Bar Cliff Bar

Twinkies Wheatworth Crackers

Twizzlers Planters Light Salted Peanuts

• Taken from the Clark County School District’s approved and not-recommended lists.

The Carson City School District is expected to adopt similar regulations.

For an extensive list, see http://ccsd.net/foodservice/2-NutritionPolicy.htm.