Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced their new “Smart Snacks in School” standards to ensure healthier options in school vending machines. In a news release, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, “Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines, and snack bars will support their great efforts."

We agree.

In fact, USDA’s regulations largely reflect the success of our industry voluntary removing full-calorie soft drinks from schools and replacing them with low- and no-calorie options. Through our National School Beverage Guidelines, we have reduced beverage calories shipped to schools by 90 percent.  Practical approaches such as these will continue to have meaningful and lasting impact for generations to come.

We commend the USDA for its thorough work in developing updated standards for all food and beverages in schools and for taking into consideration the standards implemented voluntarily by our industry more than three years ago.