The Department of Public Health is in the process of updating the Massachusetts School Nutrition Standards to bring them into alignment with federal standards issued last year. The Massachusetts regulations were the result of the 2010 School Nutrition Law that MPHA and our members fought for 10 years to establish. The current standards are among the strongest in the nation, and we must ensure that the updated standards maintain our state’s leadership in protecting the health of our children.
In most areas, the proposed changes either increase the standards to come into compliance with federal regulations or they maintain the current state standard which is stricter than the floor set by the USDA. However, MPHA is concerned about a few areas of the proposal, and we also want to be vigilant about others who might use this opportunity to push for a weakening of the standards.
We encourage you join us in asking DPH to maintain strong school nutrition standards by the deadline this Friday, September 12th.
MPHA Recommendations on Proposed Changes to School Nutrition Standards
MPHA’s recommendations focus on four areas: two areas where we applaud the proposal and two where we recommend changes. Please read on below for information on how to submit your comments.
1. We applaud limiting beverages to water, 100% juice, and low- or no-fat milk. No changes are currently proposed in this area, but some parties are pushing to allow artificial sweeteners and caffeine in beverages. These products provide no nutritional benefit to students and open the door to sodas and sports drinks, which have no place in public schools. MPHA urges DPH to maintain this standard.
2. We applaud applying snack standards uniformly. Currently, all a la carte snack items must be the nutrition standards, but USDA allows school breakfast and lunch entree items that are sold a la carte to be exempt. We applaud DPH for not allowing this exemption in Massachusetts. Entree items are designed to be part of a complete nutrition meal and do not always meet the standards for a healthy snack. We urge DPH to maintain this standard.
3. We urge DPH not to allow more sugary snacks in schools. The proposal under consideration would change the method of calculating the sugar standard for snacks from 35% of calories to 35% of weight. The effect of this change will be to allow additional sugary items like pudding and frozen dairy desserts. MPHA urges DPH to maintain the current standard and not allow additional sugary snacks to be sold in schools.
4. We urge DPH to maintain the sugar standard for flavored milk. The proposed changes would eliminate the existing limit on sugar in flavored milk, leaving no standard in place. MPHA encourages DPH to maintain the existing standard that caps the amount of sugar allowed in milk.
For additional information on the proposed changes from DPH, click here.
There are two ways to submit comments:
- In person: A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, September 9, 2014, at 4:00 p.m. in the Public Health Council Room, Second Floor, Department of Public Health, 250 Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts.
- Electronically: Comments can be submitted electronically to Reg.Testimony@state.ma.us. Please submit electronic testimony as an attached Word document or as text within the body of an email and type “Nutrition Standards” in the subject line. All submissions must include the sender’s full name and address.
If you have questions please contact Maddie Ribble at firstname.lastname@example.org.