The South Carolina Department of Education will now require snacks sold at school meet the same nutritional standards as breakfast and lunch. For two years, Eat Smart Move More SC, a health advocacy group, has been working to ensure that every student in every school would be offered healthier snacks at school. On June 5, 2016 the Healthy Food in Schools Bill (S 484) was signed into law by Governor Nikki Haley to update the state nutrition standards to be in line with the USDA. Sponsored by State Senator Katrina Shealy, S 484 helps schools, parents and communities play an active role in school nutrition and healthy choices for students through public reporting and school health improvement plans.
The focus on school snacks is especially important for the state of South Carolina which has the second highest obesity rate in the United States for youth ages 10 to 17 and many children consume up to half their daily calories at school. A survey of parents in South Carolina last showed that 77% supported national standards for school meals and 75% supported nutrition standards for snacks sold at school.
What’s new in the bill? Eat Smart Move More SC summarizes the bill as having two critical pieces:
- Update South Carolina’s nutrition standards to meet those set by the USDA and ensure they are regularly updated with the USDA guidelines. Doing this gives all students throughout the state equal access to healthy foods and helps prevent and address disparities.
- Require all schools to report on compliance in existing school health improvement plans. Making this information public allows the community to understand how schools are meeting nutrition standards.