The Problem: Empty Calories
Food components that provide little nutritional value, such as added sugars and solid fats, are called empty calories and they have a number of negative effects. When we’re hungry, our bodies are telling us that we’re running low on vitamins and minerals. If we respond to that signal by eating foods that have little or no vitamins and minerals, we remain hungry. We continue to eat, searching for vitamins and minerals where they don’t exist: in junk food. Not only do we put on excess weight, but we never provide our bodies with the foods they need. Moreover, we’re spending money on food that isn’t doing what it’s supposed to – talk about wasted money!
The Response: Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids
In response to this problem, Congress passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010. It directed the United States Department of Agriculture to establish nutritional standards for all foods and beverages sold to students during the school day, including those sold through fundraisers. The result was the “Smart Snacks in Schools” standards that promote the consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and dairy products with lower fat content. The legislation limits the amount of sugar, fat, and salt that foods can contain.
To meet the “Smart Snacks in Schools” standards, the snack item must have less than 200 calories and 230 mg of sodium. No more than 35% of its calories can come from fat, while only 10% can come from saturated fat. The snack must also contain no more than 35% sugar, by weight. The “Healthy Kids Pack” Pretzel Rods offered by Fundraising.com meets those 35/10/35 guidelines.
To qualify as a “Smart Snack,” any item must also meet one of the following requirements: be a whole grain-rich product; have a fruit, vegetable, dairy product, or protein food as the first ingredient, contain at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetable, and contain 10% of the Daily Value of one of the nutrients of public health concern (calcium, potassium, vitamin D, or dietary fiber.)
Impact on Fundraisers
Under the “Smart Snacks in School” nutritional standards, USDA balances the needs of schools to conduct occasional fundraisers with ensuring that students have access to healthier foods and beverages during school hours. The USDA recognizes the importance of fundraisers in allowing schools to maintain important programs. As a result, they’ve been given the authority to set a certain number of fundraisers that do not meet the “Smart Snacks in School” standards. On the other hand, there is no limit on the number of fundraisers that can be organized that do meet the new standards. Fundraisers that take place outside of school hours are not affected by the legislation, which applies only to food bought and consumed on school premises during the school day.
In other words, the new nutritional standards established by the USDA will have little impact on fundraising activities. First, there are many alternatives to candy fundraisers (just give us a visit at Fundraising.com and see just how many!) Second, most of the candy that is sold through fundraisers is not consumed on school property.
To learn more about the details of the “Smart Snacks in School” program and how it might impact your fundraising practices, give Fundraising.com a call at 1.800.443.5353 – we’re super nice!