REGULATING THE SALE OF COMPETITIVE FOODS IN SCHOOLS
WHEREAS, approximately one in five children in the U.S. is now overweight. The number of overweight children 6-17 years of age has doubled within three decades. This trend can be stopped with comprehensive nutrition education programs in schools, but such programs are increasingly undermined by high-pressure sales tactics and advertising pitches for nutrient-empty (5 percent or less of the Reference Daily Intakes/RDI) or high-fat foods and by the increasing availability of those foods through competitive food sales in schools; and
WHEREAS, research has shown that a nutritious breakfast and lunch will enable students to perform better academically and to show improved behavior. School lunch and breakfast programs are required, by law, to meet federal nutrition guidelines. The sale of competitive foods and the sale of foods of minimal nutritional value undermine the efforts of school nutrition workers to ensure that all students have access to nutritious meals. These sales also undermine the efforts of educators to establish sound nutrition habits in students; and
WHEREAS, we understand that competitive food sales often supplement extracurricular programs in schools' programs that should, ideally, be funded from the federal, state and local level, rather than solely through fundraising efforts-but there are many methods of fundraising that don't rely on the sale of competitive foods; and
WHEREAS, despite these challenges, we can address the problem of competitive food sales in schools by strengthening existing federal regulations. Currently, 33 of 50 states follow federal USDA regulations weakened as the result of litigation. The remaining 17 states have strengthened USDA regulations with stricter state law in some areas; and only 9 states have strengthened federal law by banning such sales-but it's not enough:
RESOLVED, that the AFT support federal efforts to re-establish the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture to regulate the sale of all foods throughout the entire school until the end of the school day; and
RESOLVED, until such time as federal law is changed, that the AFT provide information and guidance to state affiliates to support their efforts (including working in coalition with supportive organizations) to strengthen state law; and
RESOLVED, that AFT work to promote the use of methods of fundraising (when necessary) that don't force schools to choose between important extracurricular programs and healthy students.