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What's in local schools' vending machines?

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED GRAPHIC: USDA - The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 required the USDA to set nutrition standards for food sold in schools.Local parents might be surprised by what school officials are doing to help prevent children from becoming obese or overweight.

Lunch programs have become healthier over the years as schools worked to combat what many see as a nationwide child obesity problem. But those efforts haven’t always included a look at vending machines and the often unhealthy choices they offer.

Turns out, just three Lake Oswego schools and the district’s swimming pool building make vending machines available to kids. And the contents of those brick-shaped snack dispensers aren’t really all that bad.

Students won’t find vending machines in LOSD elementary schools or at Lake Oswego High School. “The administrative staff there did not want them,” said Marcie Christiansen, food services director of the school district.

The machines are installed at Lakeridge High School, though, and at Lakeridge and Lake Oswego junior high schools. Among the offerings: Goldfish, pretzels, Kettle Chips, Sun Chips, Odwalla juice, Vitamin Water, peanuts, granola bars, chocolate chip cookies and more. Soda pop is nowhere to be found.

And even that vending machine content is about to get healthier.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has set standards for all foods sold in schools, including a requirement that all snacks must be less than 200 calories and have 230 or fewer milligrams of sodium. But those standards are getting more stringent. After July 1, 2016, snacks and side items must have 200 milligrams of salt or less. Sun Chips (garden salsa flavor), found in the vending machine at the Lake Oswego School District pool building, have 150 milligrams of sodium per serving. A serving is 15 chips.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 required the USDA to set the nutrition standards for food sold in schools. Food must meet one of the following requirements: be a whole grain-rich product; have a first ingredient of produce, dairy or protein; be a combo food with at least one-quarter-cup produce; or contain 10 percent of “a nutrient of public health concern,” such as calcium or vitamin D (no longer effective on July 1, 2016).

Oregon’s also ahead of the curve when it comes to keeping kids healthy — at least in one category. At 9.9 percent, Oregon has the lowest rate of obesity in the country for 10- to 17-year-olds.

But the Beaver state doesn’t do as well for its younger kids. It’s ranked 10th worst in the nation for 2- to 4-year-olds, 14.9 percent of whom were obese, according to F as in Fat, a project of the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Data are from 2011, the most recent year available.

Learn more

For more information on F as in Fat, visit www.fasinfat.org.

For more information on USDA standards, visit www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/smart-snacks-school.


By Jillian Daley
Reporter
503-636-1281, ext. 109
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