The National School Boards Association (NSBA) supports locally driven programs to provide healthy and nutritious foods in schools and programs to help students, parents, and communities understand the importance of nutrition. NSBA has long been concerned about the costs of new federal mandates created by the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization of 2010. As part of that new law, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will propose new standards for competitive foods, which include snacks and drinks sold in school vending machines, stores and à la carte lines.
Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s Associate Executive Director for Public Policy and Federal Advocacy, commented on the Health Impact Assessment on competitive food standards released on June 26 by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:
“The press release and the report itself are misleading. Conclusions that mandatory national standards are affordable and could even generate revenue increases for ‘schools and districts’ pertain only to school food service departments, and the report minimizes or ignores the potential loss of revenue for other school district functions including instruction, or potential increases in costs to students and families.
“The report’s narrow focus on school food service revenue overlooks the impact on revenue from competitive food sales on other school activities such as athletics and field trips. The assessment also ignores the cumulative impact of other provisions of the child nutrition reauthorization – such as paid meal pricing requirements and the under-funded cost of national standards for subsidized school meals – that could require schools and districts to increase the prices that students and families must pay for breakfast, lunch and snacks.
“The press release statement that mandatory national standards for all foods sold on the school campus throughout the school day ‘is something that schools and districts can afford,’ and that ‘school budgets’ will benefit, should be retracted, given the limited scope.
“As the USDA prepares regulations to implement the competitive food standards provision of PL 111-296, NSBA urges the Department to recognize the limitations of the Health Impact Assessment.
“It’s important that our nation’s public schools have the ability to provide a full range of academic programs in addition to healthy school meals to give each child a healthy and positive learning environment to achieve their full potential,” Resnick concluded.