Posted on Wed, March 17, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
6 Comments | Categories: Food Justice, Labeling, News, Current Events, Policy, School Food,
by Alex Loud, leader of Slow Food Boston
For a number of years now, a host of organizations in Massachusetts have been pushing to reduce the amount of junk food being marketed in public schools in the state. Before this year, however, these efforts had been consistently rebuffed in the Massachusetts legislature and cafeterias around the state have continued to hawk a sorry collection of chips, sugary cereals and soda. Last week, however, all that changed.
On March 11th, the Massachusetts state Senate voted unanimously in favor of a bill known as the “School Nutrition Bill.” The bill as written currently will ban junk food, sodas and sports drinks from being sold in schools either in vending machines or cafeterias. As the Boston Globe put it:
“The measure establishes nutritional standards for items available at vending machines, school stores, and snack bars during school hours, and it essentially bans the sale of soda, candy bars, fried chips, and even sports drinks, which health officials say can sometimes have more sugar than their carbonated counter parts.
The bill calls for selling nonfat and low-fat dairy products, non-fried fruits and non-fried vegetables, whole grains and related products, and beverages without additives or carbonation, non-sweetened water, and 100 percent fruit juices.”
Additionally, the bill contains a number of items related to increasing farm-to-school activity in the coming years.
While the bill only covers food sold on school property and does not touch the Federally-subsidized lunch programs, this is clearly a sizable victory for all the organizations that supported the bill including Slow Food. We also hope the fact that this bill was able to get through the legislature in such overwhelming fashion signals a sea-change in how public health agendas may fare when pitted against commercial lobbying interests in Massachusetts. Â Of course, that’s probably a bit of a reach but this bill is unquestionably a step in the right direction. Â
The bill now goes to reconciliation (between the Senate and House versions) and then on to Governor Deval Patrick’s desk for signature. Â He is expected to sign it. Â