‘Real Food For Kids’ Group in Md. Helps Lock Up School Vending Machines

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File photo of vending machines. (Photo credit: PAUL J.RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of vending machines. (Photo credit: PAUL J.RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

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LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — A grassroots parent advocacy group for the Montgomery County Public Schools system is celebrating what members see as a nutritional victory.

Starting this year, school vending machines containing items that do not meet the requirements of the county’s wellness policy (*see below) won’t only be locked during the school day, the sugary snacks and drinks inside won’t be made available until 30 minutes after the last bell.

“The students at MCPS will no longer have easy access to sugary sodas, candy and other unhealthy items immediately after school,” Real Food for Kids Montgomery said in a news release. “We are very thankful to Board of Education members, Director of Food and Nutrition Services Marla Caplon and County Council Member George Leventhal, as well as to the Superintendent, for their participation in bringing about this decision.”

The group, which formed last October, was also instrumental in getting an experimental healthy vending machine placed in Takoma Park Middle School for a test run this fall, according to co-founder and co-director Lindsey Parsons.

* School food nutrition requirements

Approved Snack Items

Total fat: Calories from total fat must be at or below 35% per serving. Excludes nuts, seeds, nut butters, and reduced-fat cheese.

Trans fat: Less than 0.5 grams (trans fat free) per serving

Saturated fat: Calories from saturated fat must be below 10% per serving. Excludes reduced-fat cheese.

Sugar: Total sugar must be under or equal to 35% sugar by weight (includes naturally occurring and added sugars). Excludes fruits, vegetables, and milk.

Sodium: <= 480 mg per non entree. <= 600 mg per entree.

Portion size/Calories: Not to exceed the serving size of the food served in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP); for other items, the package or container is not to exceed 200 calories.

Carbonated beverages, candy of any type, donuts, and honey buns are prohibited from sale to students regardless of their nutritional profile.

Approved Beverages

Milk: Only low-fat (1% or less) and fat-free (skim), flavored or unflavored fluid milk, and/or USDA approved alternative dairy beverages; limit serving size to maximum of 8 fluid ounces.

Fruit and vegetable juices: 100% juice with no sweeteners (nutritive or non-nutritive); limit serving size to maximum of 6 fluid ounces in elementary schools.

Water: No sweeteners (nutritive or non-nutritive) noncarbonated, caffeine-free. No flavored water in elementary schools.

Sports drinks (isotonic beverages) only available in secondary schools and must be located in physical education area only.

WNEW’s Kimberly Suiters contributed to this report. Follow her and WNEW on Twitter.

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