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NEW MASSACHUSETTS STATE SCHOOL NUTRITION GUIDELINES

The Northampton Public School district wants to provide a healthy school environment for all students. That means offering nourishing food and drink choices that will promote students’ growth and development, learning, and healthy life-long eating habits.

As part of the effort to improve children’s health in Massachusetts, the State Legislature asked the Massachusetts Departments of Public Health and Elementary and Secondary Education to develop nutrition standards for our public schools. We would like to tell you about how these standards will be applied in your child’s school beginning in August, 2012.  The nutrition standards support our goals for student health and academic achievement by concentrating on serving nutrient-rich, minimally processed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy products.  The new standards were developed by health and education experts using the Institute of Medicine’s Nutrition Standards for Food in School and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 and are focused on what are called “competitive” foods and drinks sold or provided in public schools during the school day.  The standards do not apply to school meals programs, which follow USDA national guidelines.  Competitive foods and drinks are those provided in:

  • School cafeteria à la carte items (sold separately from school meals)
  • Vending machines
  • School stores and snack bars

The standards apply to items sold or provided from 30 minutes before the beginning of the school day until 30 minutes after the school day ends. However, foods and drinks sold in vending machines must meet the standards at all times. Please find below an “at-a-glance” summary of the standards.

We invite you to join us in working with other parents, teachers, nutrition services, school staff and the community, through our Health Advisory Committee, to put the new standards in place in our schools.  We welcome your ideas and support in creating a healthier school environment for our students.  Please visit our Health Advisory Committee webpage for information on the next meeting as well as meeting agendas and minutes.

Please feel free to call us at 413-587-1364 with any questions and ideas you may have. More information about children’s wellness and nutrition is available at www.mass.gov/massinmotion/.

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