The West Virginia Department of Education has proposed new rules to lower the sugar and fat content of breakfast, lunch and snacks sold to public school children.
The state agency is seeking the public's comments before December 17 on the updated rules, which would bring West Virginia in line with federal Child Nutrition requirements adopted in 2004.
Among other changes, the standards prohibit the sale or service of coffee products, caffeinated beverages and any food or drink containing artificial sweeteners.
While state law allows the sale of soft drinks to students in high schools, the state school board is pushing schools to offer only water, low-fat milk and juice to students during the school day.
New rules would basically ban trans fats in school food, limiting it to half a gram per item. Lunches and breakfasts would have fewer calories from fat, less sodium and more dietary fiber, according to the policy.
Foods not prepared by schools get special attention in the revised policies. Those packaged or prepared items will have to conform to tight nutrition guidelines, and cannot be offered to students until after all students have had lunch.
Citing special dietary needs and food safety concerns, the rules restrict food and drink brought to schools from outside sources, saying those items cannot be served to the general student population. Parties and holiday celebrations that offer food and drink are to be monitored by school personnel, the policy says.
State policies on extracurricular activities and purchase orders are also up for review. Text of the policies are available online at http://wvde.state.wv. us/news.
The public can make their comments about school nutrition rules online, or by writing to Richard J. Goff, Executive Director; Office of Child Nutrition; West Virginia Department of Education; Capitol Building 6, Room 248; 1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East; Charleston, West Virginia 25305-0330. Goff can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.