President’s Letter

SFA Supports Voluntary School Nutrition Standards

The Snack Food Associationconcurs with the conclusion of an Institute of Medicine report titled “Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools,” issued April 25, that action needs to be taken in the nation’s public schools to combat childhood obesity. (See page 48 for details.) Indeed, our industry is concerned about the fact that children in the United States are becoming more overweight and are, therefore, at risk for serious health concerns later in life.
However, we believe strongly that a voluntary approach with nutrition guidelines developed by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which already are being implemented, will be a more effective way for the IOM, the industry and schools to achieve the same goals. A partnership between the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, the alliance established its nutritional guidelines for competitive foods in cooperation with Campbell Soup Co., Dannon, Kraft Foods, Mars and PepsiCo.
After careful consideration and discussion, the SFA — as well as SFA members The Bachman Co., Ubiquity Brands, Rudolph Foods and Shearer’s Foods — endorsed those guidelines, which have been agreed to by nutrition and health experts, and are fast becoming the gold standard among health professionals, school administrators and the industry.
In fact, many companies in the industry now are working very hard — and expending considerable resources — to make real changes in products to meet the nutrition requirements contained in the alliance’s guidelines. This is a serious effort reflecting the industry’s commitment to meeting the nutritional needs of our young people, and companies that have stepped up to the plate in this way should be commended.
As for the Institute of Medicine’s report, it was prepared by a multidisciplinary committee that sought to review and make recommendations regarding appropriate nutrition standards for the availability, sale, content and consumption of foods and beverages at school, with special attention given to foods and beverages offered in competition with federally reimbursable meals and snacks. Certainly, this adds to the ongoing debate regarding nutrition criteria for foods sold in schools and could well serve as the basis for legislation containing mandatory standards that would have the force of law.
That is not something the SFA can support. We recognize that our industry has an important role to play in helping to improve the health and fitness levels of adolescents and young children. However, we all agree that there is no single solution to combat obesity and no one food should be singled out to blame for this complex problem.
The SFA understands the nutritional challenges faced in today’s school environment. Since the 2006 launch of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s guidelines, our member companies have released nutritious snack products that are formulated to meet or exceed these standards. Our members will continue to develop new ways to provide better-for-you snack options and will work with the alliance to implement their guidelines in schools.
Jim McCarthy
SFA President & CEO