New information released by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that while efforts to clean up food offerings for the nation’s students has been quite effective in primary schools, secondary schools are still struggling to offer healthy food options to students.
The data released by the organizations looked at information obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on which snacks and beverages are being sold in high schools across the country. These items augment cafeteria meals, typically as pre- or post- school hour snacks for students.
According to the data, a majority of high schools in more than 40 U.S. states do not sell fruits or vegetables through snack bars or vending machines, but rather, still sell students a variety of high-calorie, low-nutrition snacks and beverages, despite efforts by many school districts to change the snack food offerings. While less than half of all high schools still sell sodas and other high calorie drinks, the data shows that roughly only half of U.S. high schools sell fruits and vegetables as well.
Between 2002 and 2008, surveys showed high schools were moving forward in reducing the number of high calorie snacks offered to students, but in the last four years, efforts have decreased significantly, and some schools have even increased unhealthy food options, cites the report.
One of the driving factors in making unhealthy snack options available to students is not the lack of access to healthier foods, but a concern over loss of revenue in vending machines stocked with fruits and vegetables or water instead of soda. Data released earlier this year also by Pew and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showed the opposite to be true—highlighting increased revenues for schools that prohibited high-calorie junk food options in vending machines.
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