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Rules set to go into effect next school year will make other foods around school healthier



WASHINGTON (AP) - Even the scoreboards in high school gyms will have to advertise only healthy foods under new rules announced Tuesday by the Obama administration.

Promotion of sugary drinks and junk foods around campuses during the school day will be phased out under the rules, intended to ensure that such marketing is brought in line with health standards that already apply to school foods.

That means a scoreboard at a high school football or basketball game eventually wouldn't be allowed to advertise Coca-Cola, for example, but it could advertise Diet Coke or Dasani water, which is also owned by Coca-Cola Co. Same with the front of a vending machine. Cups, posters and menu boards which promote foods that don't meet the standards would also be phased out.

Ninety-three percent of such marketing in schools is related to beverages, and many soda companies already have started to transition their sales and advertising in schools from sugary sodas and sports drinks to their own healthier products. Still, companies are spending $149 million a year on marketing to kids in schools, according to USDA.

The proposed rules are part of first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative to combat child obesity, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary this week. Mrs. Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new rules at a White House event.

"The idea here is simple - our classrooms should be healthy places where kids aren't bombarded with ads for junk food," the first lady said. "Because when parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn't be undone by unhealthy messages at school."

The rules also would allow more children access to free lunches and ensure that schools have wellness policies in place.

The proposed rules come on the heels of USDA regulations that are now requiring foods in the school lunch line to be healthier.

Rules set to go into effect next school year will make other foods around school healthier as well, including in vending machines and separate "a la carte" lines in the lunch room. Calorie, fat, sugar and sodium limits will have to be met on almost every food and beverage sold during the school day at 100,000 schools. Concessions sold at afterschool sports games would be exempt.

The healthier food rules have come under fire from conservatives who think the government shouldn't dictate what kids eat - and from some students who don't like the healthier foods.

At the White House event, Mrs. Obama defended herself against critics, saying that "I didn't create this issue."

"This new approach to eating and activity is not just a fad, and it's not just a movement," she said. "Nowhere is this more clear than in our schools."

Aware of the backlash, the USDA is allowing schools to make some of their own decisions on what constitutes marketing and asking for comments on some options. For example, the proposal asks for comments on initiatives like Pizza Hut's "Book It" program, which coordinates with schools to reward kids with pizza for reading.

Rules for other school fundraisers, like bake sales and marketing for those events, would be left up to schools or states.

Off-campus fundraisers, like an event at a local fast-food outlet that benefits a school, still would be permitted. But posters advertising the fast food may not be allowed in school hallways. An email to parents - with or without the advertising - would have to suffice. The idea is to market to the parents, not the kids.

The rule also makes allowances for major infrastructure costs - that scoreboard advertising Coca-Cola, for example, wouldn't have to be immediately torn down. But the school would have to get one with a healthier message the next time it was replaced.

The beverage industry - led by Coca-Cola Co., Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and PepsiCo - is on board with the move. American Beverage Association President and CEO Susan Neely said in a statement that aligning signage with the healthier drinks that will be offered in schools is the "logical next step."

"Mrs. Obama's efforts to continue to strengthen school wellness make sense for the well-being of our schoolchildren," Neely said.

Although Mrs. Obama lobbied Congress to pass the school nutrition bill in 2010, most of her efforts in recent years have been focused on the private sector, building partnerships with food companies and retailers to sell healthier foods.

The child nutrition law also expanded feeding programs for hungry students. The rules being proposed Tuesday would increase that even further by allowing the highest-poverty schools to serve lunch and breakfast to all students for free. According to the USDA and the White House, that initiative would allow 9 million children in 22,000 schools to receive free lunches.

The USDA has already tested the program, which is designed to increase participation for students and reduce paperwork and applications for schools, in 11 states.

The Obama administration will also announce new guidelines for school wellness policies. Schools have been required to have general wellness policies that set their own general standards for foods, physical activity and other wellness activities since 2004. But the new rules would require parents and others in the school community to be involved in those decisions.

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suziqtest February 26 2014 at 7:46 PM

Tell MOOCHelle to leave our kids ALONE. They ours to raise... NOT the federal governments.
My kids PACK a healthy lunch and are allowed a soda twice a week....AND they understand why.
PARENTS should be responsible for raising their kids...including understanding the power of advertising.... good and bad.
RAISE your own kids Moochelle.... and leave us ALONE. As well as the taxes you are ******* into your stupid 'look at me' campaigns.

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ogledude February 26 2014 at 1:59 PM

that stuff doesnt fill the kids up, they end up dreaming of hamburgers and candy bars the rest of the day rather than focusing on school. These dogooders aways GO TO EXTREMES

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eaglephoenix2 February 26 2014 at 11:20 AM

What no one seems to care about is the 'partnering' with these huge corporations. Kickbacks, exclusive contracts etc, are a setting for corruption and abuse, with the 'healthy food for kids' being only the catch phrase to usher it in.

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shaybird February 26 2014 at 11:18 AM

Diet coke may have less calories than coke but it is certainly not healthier.

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1 reply to shaybird's comment
suziqtest February 26 2014 at 7:49 PM

COMPLTELEY AGREE... even the AMA this year declared regular coke healthier than the chemically traced 'diet sodas'. Indeed they announced that DIET cokes cause more obesity than sugared drinks.
Neither is healthy... but the stuff they pump diet drinks with is disgusting.....
BUT..... the bottom line is.... it is a PARENTS decision to raise their kid to know the difference and benefit of eating healthy....NOT THE &*^*&^ Fedarl Government and MOOCHelle's Fat......... nose.

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woodgrid February 26 2014 at 11:00 AM

More power to her! It's time somebody did something. The American diet is literally killing us and costing us a fortune. Kids are the only hope. They must be educated to eat healthy, and they are not going to learn it at home.

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nam2205 February 26 2014 at 11:08 AM

Yeah, they will eat heathy at school and when they are home they will eat a case of twinkies.,,,,,hahahahaha

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suziqtest February 26 2014 at 7:52 PM

BUT.... they SHOULD and CAN be taught at home. It is NOT the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S responsibility to raise our kids. PERIOD>

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abanaszewski February 26 2014 at 11:00 AM

The issue is not whether people want to improve school lunches but who controls what children eat. Do you want the government to control everything? Reduce taxes so local school districts get the money they need. The control should be at the local level. Then parents, get involved with your children. Volunteer with the PTA, assist and work with your children on their homework, limit TV and video games, be a parent!

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suziqtest February 26 2014 at 7:52 PM

DAM RIGHT.... PERFECT POST. Thank you!!

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jsim6974 February 26 2014 at 10:45 AM

What's next from Right-Wing, pretend outrage over mandatory seat belts in cars?

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1 reply to jsim6974's comment
suziqtest February 26 2014 at 7:54 PM

wow... based on both stupid remarks... mom should have been spared jsim.... and sure didn't raise you to think for your self.... government drone.

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jsim6974 February 26 2014 at 10:43 AM

Right-Wingers having a melt down over "Healthy Lunches." Love it! Learn to grow a pair.

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1 reply to jsim6974's comment
tazteq February 26 2014 at 1:09 PM

No meltdown concerning healthy lunches - meltdown over another big DC government dictating to local populations what they can and cannot offer to their local people. Also, great initiative on the free lunch expansion. Is the USDA going to provide funding for this initiative? Nope, another unfunded mandate from DC that will fall upon the locals as DC will suddenly claim it is a state issue.

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suziqtest February 26 2014 at 7:57 PM

PERFECT POST and DAM right !! as history repeatedly shows from failed LIBTARD mandated unfunded federal programs.
The GOVERNMENT should NOT be raising our children or dictating what we prefer they eat IN ANY way.
Anyone who thinks that is proper has zero clue what liberty means.....OR responsibility for PARENTING.
Tell MOOCHELLE to pack her own lunch.....and LEAVE.

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suziqtest February 26 2014 at 8:01 PM

Dam PERFECT post. Another UNFUNDED federal mandate to look like some LIB TARDS hero which the states will get stuck paying for without being able to control how our local taxes are spent.
History shows these initiatives FAIL every time and having MOOCHELLE fat nose in raising our kids is just one more erosion of our personal liberty.
PARENTING is OUR responsibility.... NOT the FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS and ANYONE that doesn't see not only the pure political agenda in this stupidity at the expense of our rights to free choice for our children is content to be a government owned Dem drone.

Tell MOOCH ELLE to pack her own lunch and leave our kids alone.

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jsim6974 February 26 2014 at 10:42 AM

Typical Right-Winger response of "sky is falling" over a non-issue.

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suziqtest February 26 2014 at 8:02 PM

Typical DIP LIB not recognizing loss of one more liberty.... and obviously never a parent. Or a dam poor one.

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suziqtest February 26 2014 at 8:03 PM

Typical LEFT WINGER not recognizing loss of liberty and government intervention where they have no right.
TRY parenting... before you show your ignorance.

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jsim6974 February 26 2014 at 10:37 AM

What would you Tea Baggers suggest? We lead world in obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

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2 replies to jsim6974's comment
abanaszewski February 26 2014 at 11:02 AM

Ok from now on a government agency will come to your house for an inspection to be sure that everything in your pantry meets their approval. You will be taxed heavily and then be given a budget and an approved menu. You will be inspected on a regular basis to be sure that you are exercising and eating the approved menu. How does that sound?

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1 reply to abanaszewski's comment
suziqtest February 26 2014 at 8:05 PM

well stated.... but your are replying to pure blind dumb socialist ignorance... so good luck.

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suziqtest February 26 2014 at 8:04 PM

It is called PARENTING..... try it.

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