Sad news for any sixth graders looking to binge on a pack of Oreos after homeroom: President Obama took a page out of Mayor Bloomberg's anti-obesity book this week and unrolled new rules for snack foods in school vending machines. It looks like fun, fatty snacks like chocolate bars and donuts are out in favor of healthy stuff like granola bars and (ugh) dried fruit.
The new snack guidelines are part of the government's "Smart Snacks In School" initiative, which Obama signed into law in 2010 and will be put into place for the 2014/2015 school year. They require snack food sold in schools to be made with at least 50 percent whole grains, be low in lower in fat, sugar and sodium and contain no more than 200 calories per package, effectively killing empty-calorie vending machine standbys like Twizzlers and fruit snacks and replacing them with nuts, flavored water and low-fat tortilla chips.
Junky food is still okay when it comes to special events like birthday parties and bake sales, and Obama won't be carting any parents off to prison if they choose to send their kid to school with a Twix bar. But the "Smart Snacks in School" initiative is a big move by the administration to replace empty fats and sugars with munchies that'll do the body a bit more good, and it might also force junk food manufacturers to rethink some of their ingredients once schools stop buying their products. "After a phase-in period, companies won’t be able to just fortify foods with cheap nutrients and call them healthy," Margo Wootan, the nutrition policy director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told Bloomberg Businessweek. "It’s the difference between fortified junk food and real food."
Unsurprisingly, New York City implemented stricter rules for snack food in school vending machines a few years ago. And yet, junk food connoisseurs shouldn't lose hope: Twinkies will be heading back to grocery store shelves (but not vending machines!) in just over two weeks.